The north Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, has a habit of becoming Fargo South each January. That's because the North Dakota State football team for eight of the last nine years has qualified for the Football Championship Subdivision title game played in Frisco.
So we up north have a tendency to keep an eye on the happenings in Frisco and neighboring Plano, where many Bison fans stay and party when NDSU is playing.
Last week, Frisco made news for being one of the last cities in its region to order the closing of bars and restaurants. Mayor Jeff Cheney finally relented Friday after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott indicated he was going to order a statewide shutdown of such establishments.
Today, Frisco and its surrounding suburbs are in the news because a Collin County judge (the county in which part of Frisco is located) issued an order Tuesday, March 24, that all county residents were to stay home "except for travel related to essential activities. Entertainment activities are not considered essential activities."
Judge Chris Hill, though, later in the order deemed all businesses essential.
"All businesses, jobs and workers are essential to the financial health and well-being of our local economy and therefore are essential to the health and well-being of Collin County citizens. Persons who are employed need to stay employed. People who lack employment need to gain employment. Businesses that are able to remain open need to remain open."
At a press conference with Collin County mayors flanking him, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News, Hill said numerous times, "“All businesses and all jobs and all workers are essential.”
Some mayors are confused because they had discussed a shelter-in-place order like some jurisdictions are doing, including neighboring Dallas County. Shelter-in-place orders like the one implemented in Dallas County close all businesses and stop all travel deemed non-essential in a more traditional sense -- first responders, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.
But by emphasizing that all businesses and workers are essential, Collin County's order is saying that all businesses other than dining and entertainment establishments can stay open and people should go to work -- as long as people maintain social distancing and comply with the governor’s orders limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
The question at least one mayor, McKinney's George Fuller, has is whether Hill's designation of "essential" is legally binding or simply showing intent to maintain economic stability in the county. Fuller told the Morning News that Collin County mayors had been working toward a shelter-in-place order together, but that Hill believed that action was too "aggressive."
“Is what ... [Hill] said today — ‘all business is essential’ — is that an order?' I don’t know yet,” Fuller said said. “I can’t conflict with orders, but I can conflict with desires, intent, wishes, pleadings.”
Adding to the confusion for Frisco is that parts of it are located in two counties, Collin and Denton. So if Denton County has different coronavirus-related orders than Collin County, businesses within Frisco could operate under different rules. That has happened to nearby Richardson, parts of which are located in both Collin and Dallas counties.
Here's the order issued by Judge Hill: