The Flower Mound Town Council on Thursday extended its disaster declaration as it relates to COVID-19 to April 20.

This comes hours after Gov. Greg Abbott announced four orders to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Abbott’s orders call for residents to avoid gatherings in groups of 10 or more people, as well as eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors. Residents can order food at restaurants that have delivery, carry-out or drive-thru options.

The other orders prohibit the visiting of nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance, as well as require schools to temporarily close.

Mayor Steve Dixon issued the town’s first declaration March 15. That declaration prohibited gatherings of 250 or more people, and it closed the library, senior center and Community Activity Center.

Thursday the council favored extending its declaration 30 days – ultimately deciding on 31 days so that a renewal vote could come on a Monday. An extension was needed for the town to be eligible for state and federal disaster relief aid. 

The council, which could add amendments to its declaration more stringent than the governor’s orders but not less stringent, briefly discussed amending it to close certain businesses where there is close contact, such as spas.

But the majority of the council feared that would be too overreaching.

Others said it would ultimately do no good unless every city in the area does the same thing.

“Unless we have broad support from our neighbors, it’s a futile effort,” Dixon said, adding that it would negatively impact local businesses.

Flower Mound’s declaration does, however, last longer than the governor’s orders, which end April 3. Council members said it’s unlikely the coronavirus situation will be resolved by then.

“I don’t think we’re out of this in two weeks,” said Councilman Jim Engel.

Engel shared with the council that a relative of his is in isolation after experiencing some severe symptoms, even though it hasn’t been confirmed that it’s coronavirus.

Councilman Ben Bumgarner said he supported the extension because there are plenty of unknowns and not enough coronavirus tests to know how bad the pandemic really is.

“How many people are walking around sick and don’t even know it?” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner suggested closing down the town’s parks temporarily.

“If we have a chance to get ahead of this now, let’s do that,” Bumgarner said.  

While not part of the declaration, the council agreed at Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos’ suggestion to suspend its sign regulations for businesses as some companies are requesting for options not currently allowed by the town to help their businesses that are struggling because of the coronavirus.

Stathatos said one report states that 30 percent of businesses won’t survive this pandemic. He said once the declaration ends the regulations would resume.

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