Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas bars can reopen this week, albeit with 25 percent indoor capacity limits, and that Texas restaurants can now reopen with half capacities, both starting on Friday, May 22, the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. This was announced during a press conference this afternoon.
Bars, brewery taprooms, and wine tasting rooms, which have remained closed since mid-March, can reopen with 25 percent indoor capacities and full outdoor/patio capacities, while still maintaining social distancing requirements. These include:
- Bars should install tables and chairs (if not there already) and offer table service so that guests must remain at their tables for orders and don’t congregate around the bar
- Physical bars and bar tops should be “physically block[ed] off” and bar stools “remove[d] or block[ed] off, to prevent people from sitting and standing around the bar
- Like restaurants, guests are limited to groups of six or fewer people
- Tables and groups should maintain distances of six feet or more
- Dancing and other “activities that enable close human contact” aren’t banned, but just “discouraged”
- Bars don’t have to use disposable glassware, menus, and other serving utensils
- Orders should be placed with a server at the table or through a website or app
- There should be a hand sanitizing station just inside the front door of the bar
- Staffers should be in charge of maintaining lines to enter bars with social distancing guidelines
- Video arcades, playgrounds, and other interactive activities must remain closed
- Facial coverings are recommended for employees, but not required
- Sanitize the space every day and high-touch contact areas after each use
Businesses that don’t follow these guidelines might face suspensions in licenses by the TABC: 30 days for the first offense and 60 days for the second offense.
As for restaurants, the same original requirements and recommendations still apply under these newly expanded capacity limits of 50 percent capacities. Groups of six or fewer diners can be seated, tables must be placed six feet apart, hand sanitizing station must be available, disposable menus must be used, staffers must be screened before shifts
The half-capacity-limit don’t apply to patio and outdoor capacities either, but restaurants must still adhere to social distancing requirements.
Update, May 22, 10:03 a.m. This article, originally published on Tuesday, May 18, has been updated to include updated guidelines.