It’s been more than a month since Dallas County was ordered to stay home.
With bars, theaters, gyms and malls closed, and public gatherings prohibited, North Texans have had to find other ways to keep themselves entertained and maintain connections with family and friends.
Since the county’s stay-at-home order took effect March 23 to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, residents are supposed to limit outdoor activities that don’t involve exercise or essential tasks. Many have taken to the streets for long walks through their neighborhoods or picnics at the park for a change of scene. But as yet another weekend in quarantine begins, is Dallas getting cabin fever?
On a sunny Friday, we found that while plenty of people around the county were enjoying the outdoors, most were finding ways to comply with social distancing rules and mostly, keeping 6 feet away from each other. It might take a while for masks to become more common, though.
It was a slow, sleepy start to the morning as a few people — all wearing face masks — were out for a stroll around an empty John Peeler Elementary School.
A few blocks up, a normally bustling Jefferson Boulevard stood still. On the first day retail stores were allowed to reopen for “to-go” service, many of the shops remained closed, with no signs that they planned to open.
A few streets farther north, in the Bishop Arts District, truck drivers dropped off cases of beer, produce and merchandise to shops and stores on Davis Street and Bishop Avenue, but the sidewalks were clear.
But as the sun rose a little higher, the neighborhood began to stir as a few residents wandered out for caffeine at places like Davis Street Espresso.
Meanwhile others waiting for their breakfast at Oddfellows picked out avocados, apples, onions, strawberries, soap, toilet paper and other staples not usually offered by the restaurant, which has converted to a kind of one-stop shop for locals during the pandemic.
— Jesus Jimenez
A few dozen people walked, jogged and bicycled this working man’s lake in northwest Dallas. They kept their distance from one another, just like the big black and orange electronic sign at the entrance of the lake warned.
The sky was void of airplanes whose path typically cuts above the park as they come and go from Dallas Love Field.
In the quiet underneath a tree, Alfredo Gonzalez stared out at the choppy water deliberating how — and when — to get his restaurants back to normal.
One, Anna’s Mexican Grill, is in Colleyville where Mayor Richard Newton is allowing restaurants to begin serving customers on patios.
His business has not suffered much since restaurants were limited to takeout only. Most of the staff is working and healthy. He feels the weight of the decision on whether to reopen fully to customers. He wants to wait and see what other local governments and the governor say.
“We have very loyal customers,” Gonzalez said. “But mentally, emotionally, it’s very tough. Ask me today. We’re OK. But we don’t know what is going to happen in two or three weeks. Nobody knows what will happen in the future.”
— Nic Garcia
At 1:45 p.m. Friday, the scene at White Rock Lake.(Ryan Michalesko / Staff Photographer)
If the world were normal and you were to walk around White Rock Lake Park on a Friday afternoon in late April, it might look very similar to how it looked today. People were jogging, fishing, couples were holding hands.
But look closely enough, and you see the differences: Bikers riding with masks on. Two elderly friends walking together, but clearly keeping the recommended 6-foot distance while they chatted. A woman speaking loudly on FaceTime about how it was funny to see the states “that just can’t take it anymore” and are starting to open up the economy.
Mostly, though, people were exercising alone, or with just one other person. No rules of social distancing appeared to be being borken. Even a group of four people making and filming a workout class did so at a distance from each other.
Absent were boats out on the lake. And the businesses along the water appeared closed.
But the sun still shined. People still were out and about — enjoying a break from the lockdown.
— Sam Blum
A GameStop employee delivers a package to Jermaine Murray outside NorthPark Center on Friday.(Lawrence Jenkins / Special Contributor)
Jermaine Murray of Grapevine dropped his Nintendo Switch one too many times before deciding Friday that it was time to buy a protective case. He didn’t want to risk losing one of the few distractions he has these days.
Besides, Murray, 39, said he’s finally turned his girlfriend Ryan Martin, 41, into a gamer of sorts.
They’re both working from home — she’s a teacher and he’s a network engineer — so they like to take a break now and then to watch some Netflix or play a game of Animal Crossing. “It helps the anxiety,” he said.
Murray logged onto GameStop’s website this morning thinking he could put in a retail-to-go order for the Switch case. It was in stock in Dallas at the GameStop at NorthPark. No problem, he said, especially while gas is cheap.
Driving to Dallas also means getting his favorite burger. “I love Liberty Burger. We eat in the car in the parking lot and then drive around in one of the nice neighborhoods and feel better.”
— Maria Halkias
Pueblo Park sat empty as a slight breeze blew through the quiet intersection of Bataan and Pueblo streets in West Dallas.
The blue and red “Playground Closed/Cerrado” sign planted nearby warned the children of the La Bajada Neighborhood to stay away.
Across the street from the park, a paletero wearing a black-and-white homemade mask sold a popsicle to a barefoot boy in a red T-shirt. Business was slow. No one was out there, he said, before peddling away in his hybrid push cart-tricycle.
A few neighborhood residents stood outside talking from a distance. But down the street, a group of five men sat close to each other, sipping beer and talking.
Just south of them, at Bataan and Singleton Boulevard, sat the boarded-up Singleton Tattoo.
“COVID,” read the spray painted plywood covering up the parlor’s door and windows. “WE’RE OKAY. CLOSING TO HELP SLOW THIS DOWN … WASH YOUR HANDS.
— Obed Manuel
The Walmart parking lot at Cockrell Hill Road and I30 on the afternoon of Friday, April 24, 2020. Some shoppers wore masks to pick up everything from essentials like toilet paper to big-screen television sets.(Charles Scudder / DMN)
It felt especially hot — the first real day of summertime heat this year — on the blacktop of the shopping center on Cockrell Hill Road and I-30.
In the Walmart parking lot, a loudspeaker announcement reminded shoppers to practice social distancing. An employee, in mask and gloves, sprayed rows of carts with disinfectant as customers entered the store.
As cars streamed in and out of the shopping center, a few men held signs asking for money. One played the theme song to The Simpsons on trombone.
Under a shade tree, Don Mai set up a little table with hand sanitizer and N95 masks. He sells them at cost, he says, but gives free supplies to the homeless people nearby.
The Grand Prairie resident has a nail salon that’s had to close during the pandemic. He had the extra supplies from the store, and wanted to be able to distribute them.
“We need to make money, but we need to serve people if we can.”
— Charlie Scudder
Amanda Calhoun of Dallas throws a tennis ball to her black lab KC at Cole Park on Friday.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)
The tennis courts are chained up and the playground is taped off, but that didn’t stop Uptown residents from enjoying an afternoon at Cole Park.
While some walked their dogs, a few played catch, one family had a picnic, and several others laid out in the sun. Few wore face masks, but many maintained more than 20 feet of space between each other. Signs posted across the park advised residents to keep at least 6 feet of social distancing.
As soon as her last Zoom meeting of the day ended, Amanda Calhoun drove to the park with her 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, KC, who sported a Kansas City Chiefs collar.
“That’s all we do now — Zoom meetings and going to the park,” Calhoun said, as she threw a tennis ball for KC to fetch.
Usually she’ll stay until KC gets tired or runs out of water.
“She’ll do this until she just passes out,” Calhoun said, as KC chased down another ball.
— Jesus Jimenez
Customers wait for their orders on Catfish Friday at Tops in Wynnewood Village.(Gromer Jeffers Jr.)
It’s Catfish Friday at Tops Café in Wynnewood North, but with a COVID-19 twist.
Instead of neighbors, workers and regulars jamming into the diner to usher in the weekend, a fraction of the normal crowd stood outside in the heat until their call-in orders were ready.
The venerable Tops Café sits inside the massive Wynnewood Village outdoor mall. The former Oak Cliff jewel was undergoing a slow renovation when the coronavirus pandemic hit, with a movie theater complex and a fitness center joining longtime shops in the center. Now, most of the mom and pop businesses in the shopping center are closed.
Antonio Chapman, who owns a lounge and restaurant in South Oak Cliff, said he uses Tops as a Friday retreat.
“I’ll be glad when things get back to normal,” he said.
Wynnewood is the gateway between North and South Oak Cliff, and the small businesses in the Village take pride in their community.
As three men stood in line at Tops, a woman working at a restaurant a few doors down made a pitch.
“We’ve got some good food down here,” she said. “Burgers, wings and fries. Come get it.”
— Gromer Jeffers
People line up to cool off with shaved ice in the Pleasant Grove neighborhood on Friday in Dallas. (Ryan Michalesko / Staff Photographer)
Victoria Frost looked at the amorphous line outside Shaved Ice & Funnel Cake #1, and double-checked with those lingering nearby before claiming her place.
Frost, 24, had just finished her shift at a dollar store in Pleasant Grove’s Bruton Terrace Shopping Center and needed something to eat.
The warm Friday afternoon sun had drawn folks outside. A sign, taped to the inside of the shaved ice shop’s sliding window, asked patrons to maintain a 6-foot distance while waiting to order. As a guide, six Xs were taped on the sidewalk.
People weren’t using them, though, standing between cars in the parking lot or bunched together as they waited. More than half the crowd also went without masks, Frost included.
While she was required to wear a mask while at her job, taking it off at the end of the day was refreshing. But she did not discount the need to take the virus seriously. “I might self-quarantine myself,” she joked.
— Corbett Smith