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'Hallelujah': North Texas restaurant owner grateful businesses allowed to expand to 75% capacity Monday

Though some bigger restaurants will benefit, smaller ones may not see as much of a change.

Restaurants across the state of Texas are preparing to increase their capacity to 75% on Monday, after Governor Greg Abbott announced the change Thursday. Though some bigger restaurants will benefit, smaller ones may not see as much of a change.

Tim Love owns six D-FW restaurants and though his restaurants are smaller, he’s grateful that they are able to increase capacity.

"I guess to describe it in one word I’d say, 'hallelujah,'” Love said. “Any positive is really great news, so we were happy to see the governor make that choice.”

But in order to maintain social distancing, a move from 50 to 75% may not have much of an impact. 

Brooks Anderson owns Rapscallion, Hillside Tavern, Boulevardier and Veritas Wine Room. Most of his spaces are about 2,500 square feet, so if he is to maintain social distance, he can’t add increase capacity much more than 50%. 

“I don’t think that going from 50 to 75% adds, maybe we’ll be able to put in one more table, four more seats, maybe,” Anderson said. “We’ve tried to make up for the lack of inside seating by maximizing the outside seating. I think that people are still a bit leery being crammed in together.”

Anderson said if the federal government wants to help they should offer another aid package.

“There was the initial PPP package and now we’re just back to partisan hackery on both sides and it doesn’t seem like they can get anything done,” Anderson said. “It just seems to me that the nation has moved on and they are going to be nominating a new Supreme Court justice before they even discuss a second aid package, and it just seems like the workers on the ground are not a priority right now.” 

Restaurants can move to 75% along with all Texas retail stores, gyms, office buildings; museums and libraries can reopen at 75% capacity if cities and counties meet certain requirements, Gov. Abbott announced Thursday.

Those businesses and buildings can reopen in the 19 hospital regions, including Dallas-Fort Worth where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of all hospitalizations, the governor said at a Sept. 17 press briefing regarding the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 19 regions allowed to reopen at 75% capacity include the following areas:

  • Austin
  • San Antonio
  • Houston
  • Galveston/Beaumont
  • Waco
  • Temple/Killeen
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Waco
  • Corpus Christi
  • El Paso
  • San Angelo
  • Midland/Odessa
  • Lufkin
  • Longview/Tyler
  • Paris
  • Abilene
  • Wichita Falls
  • Lubbock
  • Amarillo

Abbott cited declining hospitalizations across the state as the reason Texas could further reopen.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins released a statement about the latest round of reopening:

“The important thing for the community to look at is not what is permissible but rather what is safe. This can be found on the color-coded chart at www.DallasCountyCOVID.org.

Doctors say that it is best to only frequent indoor establishments where masks can be worn 100% of the time, to choose patio or takeout dining over indoor dining at restaurants, and to frequent establishments where it’s possible to stay at least six feet away from other patrons.

With the governor increasing capacities, it will be more difficult to find indoor experiences with at least six foot distancing and it will be up to patrons to find the right establishment and time of day to patronize them safely. The Public Health Committee still recommends that people avoid bars, even if they’ve found some way to open under a loophole, and to use outdoor workouts in lieu of gyms.”

Though Love’s restaurants will be among those with challenges adding to 50% capacity, he is grateful things are heading in the right direction. 

“I try to stay positive because dwelling on things that we don’t have it makes no sense,” said Love.