Texas Businesses Want To Open – But Worry About Safety

As the state goes about the business of re-opening the economy, there is a lot to keep up with when it comes to the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are today’s bullet points.

  • Texas businesses want to open – but worry about safety
  • More relief coming for tenants and landlords – this time from the state
  • SVP Dallas looks at local leaders during crisis
  • Texas Rangers feed staff at Medical City Dallas
Texas Businesses Want To Open – But Worry About Safety

Retail businesses were allowed to adopt “retail-to-go” Friday, and Gov. Greg Abbott has indicated that this afternoon he will announce a plan to reopen more businesses.

But how do small business owners in the state feel about that?

The Texas office of the National Federation of Independent Business surveyed several and presented its findings to Abbott last week.

Customer health and employee health are the top concerns of most of the small business owners surveyed.

“It’s clear from the survey that our members’ No. 1 priority is protecting their customers and employees safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19,” NFIB State Director Annie Spilman said.

More than 70% of those surveyed were worried about keeping their employees healthy, and 68% were worried about keeping their customers healthy, too. Almost 3/4 of those surveyed were concerned about new health and safety regulations they’d be asked to comply with, too.

Among the specific concerns included owners worried about getting hand sanitizer and disinfectant – more than 72% were worried about being able to sanitize when those materials have been sold out or marked for sale only to first responders for weeks. About half of those surveyed said it would be easy to disinfect workstations and equipment frequently, though.

But less than 38% said it would be easy to maintain 6 feet of social distancing, while about 40% said it would be easy for employees to wear face masks.

Almost 50% said it wouldn’t be difficult to train employees on Centers for Disease Control guidelines, and about 22% were worried they wouldn’t be able to train their employees.

“Shelter-in-place and social distancing have taken a tremendous toll on small businesses,” Spilman said. “Half of the small businesses nationwide surveyed this month by NFIB say they can survive only two months under current conditions and about a third believed they could hang on another three to six months.”

“Our members need to reopen, and they appreciate Governor Abbott’s commonsense approach to reopening Texas’s economy. Our members understand that rebooting the Texas economy won’t be like rebooting a laptop,” she said. “It’s going to take time, and ‘retail-to-go’ is the first step in allowing merchants to re-open and reconnect with customers while minimizing contact and maintaining social distancing.”

More Relief Coming for Tenants and Landlords – This Time From State

The city of Dallas passed rental and mortgage assistance, as well as an eviction ordinance that gives renters more time if they’re late paying because of COVID-19-related hardships, and now the state has also secured funding for renter and landlord assistance.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that the state will provide HOME Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) to renters experiencing payment issues because of the pandemic.

The funds have been made possible through a series of waivers recently authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These waivers give Texas the flexibility needed to provide assistance to Texans in need.

The state initially requested these federal waivers on April 1,  and they will allow a portion of TDHCA funds to be used to help families and individuals with up to 100% of the cost of rent, security deposit payments and utility bills for tenants affected by loss of income because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to $11.3 million will be available to current TBRA administrators in the coming weeks, who will then distribute the aid.

“Thanks to these waivers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State of Texas will be able to provide much-needed financial relief to Texans struggling with housing due to challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Abbott. “We are committed to supporting Texans facing severe economic hardship brought on by this pandemic, and the state will continue to work closely with our federal partners to give Texans the resources and assistance they need.”

Individuals needing assistance should visit Help for Texans to search for rental assistance providers in their area. Simply click Long Term Rent Payment Help, enter the city or county, and click on the Find Help button.

SVP Dallas Looks at Local Leaders During Crisis

What does it look like to lead during a pandemic? SVP Dallas will look at that Thursday as Bank of America Dallas market president Jennifer Chandler is joined by Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa for a webinar that will allow the three to discuss what leading during a historical disruption entails.

“This session will delve into what it takes to lead in a transformational way when record-level disruption is in full effect, the playbook of what is ‘normal’ no longer applies, and most people are only focused on the transactional need to keep things afloat,” the organization said. “How do leaders help their employees and their stakeholders see how their work connects to a greater purpose for their organization while building trust, communicating compassion, emphasizing stability, and radiating hope?

“What does it mean to be a transformational leader in a time of crisis?”

To register for the webinar, which will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 30, click here.

Texas Rangers Feed Staff at Medical City Dallas
Photos courtesy Medical City Dallas

“Our hospital staff is smiling today thanks to the incredible generosity of the Texas Rangers,” Medical City Dallas spokesperson Kelly Hanes told us Friday.

The Rangers – specifically executive vice president of game entertainment Chuck Morgan, pitcher Kyle Gibson, and catcher Jeff Mathis, delivered hot Pecan Lodge barbecue sandwiches to feed the staff at every unit at Medical City Dallas – both day and night shifts, Hanes said.

“As the Official Healthcare System of the Texas Rangers, we like so many of you, can’t wait to get back to the stadium so we can all smile together and cheer on our beloved Rangers,” Hanes added.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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