Friday, Phase 3 of the Texas’ reopening plan went into effect during the coronavirus pandemic, with restaurants being able to further increase their occupancy levels.
According to Governor Greg Abbott's reopening plan, restaurants in the state are now able to open at a 75 percent capacity, but social distancing guidelines must still be in place.
“We ask for your patience because each restaurant may be different, each operator has a different way of planning for a safe reopening. So things may be a little bit different, but the most important thing is that they have taken your safety and your family's safety in mind,” said Coastal Bend Restaurant Association President Kathy Snapka.
Nolan's Original Poorboys restaurant owner Nolan Culp says 75 percent is not a feasible model to maintain social distance.
“The size of our restaurant, we seat about 145 people, but when we set all the tables 6 feet apart, we can only seat about 58 people. When we go to 75 percent, we can’t really seat anymore people because we already have our tables 6 feet apart,” said Nolan's Original Poorboys owner Nolan Culp.
However, for some restaurants, not expanding to 75 percent capacity is not an option.
“It is really hard, particularly for our smaller restaurateurs; they may not be able to open all. But for the ones that can, each restaurant made a determination as to how best to be able to open up, try to serve the public, and comply with the health directives,” said Snapka.
“We have to keep progressing to get to the point where we can be able to at least keep people 3 feet apart. Because, like in a small restaurant like this, when I can only still seat 50 percent, we need to get to the point where we can at least be closer so we can operate,” said Culp.
Restaurant owners said community support has been crucial during this COVID-19 pandemic to keep them going, and they don’t want to go backwards after putting in so much work to get to this point.