AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – “Phase III” of Texas’ reopening plan during the coronavirus pandemic continues Friday, with restaurants being able to further increase their occupancy levels.
According to Gov. Greg Abbott reopening plan, restaurants in the state are now able to open at a 75% capacity, but social distancing guidelines must still be in place.
This phase of the plan also continues next week with amusement parks and carnivals being able to open at a 50% capacity on June 19.
Although restaurants can now serve more customers inside their building, some owners said it will be nearly impossible to adhere to social distancing guidelines while also expanding seating.
Todd Madlener, president of Coolgreens in Dallas, said last week that 50% capacity is the most his staff can safely handle “for the foreseeable future.” His restaurant has a maximum occupancy of 48.
At Waters in Fort Worth, customers won’t notice a difference in occupancy levels on Friday.
“Going from 50 to 75%, we’ve increased our seating capacity by zero,” executive chef Jon Bonnell said.
Tables alternated between white and black table cloths, with only white cloths set for diners Friday night. Restaurants are now allowed to seat tables of up to 10, but Waters only has space for one of those tables.
Restaurant owners said community support has been crucial to keeping them going.
“But in the big picture we’re like a lot of restaurants,” Bonnell said. “We’re still circling the drain we’re just doing it slower than ever now and we’re hoping we can get more relief down the road.”
As part of the state’s minimum health protocols, “tables should generally be at least 6 feet apart from any part of another table,” according to a checklist provided by the state.