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Texas Restaurants and Bars Can Reopen With New Expanded Capacities

Bars can reopen indoor seating at half capacity starting today; restaurants can expand up to 75 percent capacities on June 12

A reopened patio in Austin
A reopened patio in Austin
Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

As part of phase three of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Open Texas plan, bars in the state can now reopen with 50 percent of their typical indoor capacities as of today, June 3, and restaurants can expand with 75 percent indoor capacities starting next Friday, June 12. The new orders were announced this evening.

Bars can only expand to half-capacity if “patrons are seated,” as the order reads. This refers to the table requirement issued in May, where bars are asked to install tables and chairs for guests and implement table service (as opposed to ordering at the bar) as a way of social distancing.

Along with increasing capacity limits next week, restaurants (which were already allowed to operate up to 50 percent indoor capacity currently) are now authorized to seat groups of up to ten people. The group limit was previously six people. This new number is in line with Austin’s “stay home, work safe” order, which states that all social groups are limited to ten people.

For both bars and restaurants, outdoor areas (including patios and backyards) aren’t subject to capacity limits. Establishments must still follow preventative COVID-19 guidelines, recommendations, and social distancing measures: There should be available hand sanitizing stations for guests; face masks are recommended; and bars tops must remain physically closed to guests.

Also under the new order, reopened businesses in Texas counties that have ten or fewer active COVID-19 cases can now allow up to 75 percent capacities across the board. (Travis County isn’t one of these counties: on June 2, there have been 73 new cases and a total of 3,433.) The new order also allows outdoor events with 500+ attendees, specifically pointing to the Fourth of July, but these are permitted only under the discretion of local mayors and county judges. For these events, face masks are recommended but still not required, groups are supposed to be limited to ten people or less, and maintaining six feet of distance between groups are recommended.

Austin’s recently extended ‘stay home, work safe’ order runs through Monday, June 15.