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About 12% of Texas restaurants have permanently closed due to coronavirus, says Texas Restaurant Association

The Texas Restaurant Association is asking for $390 million of the $6.18 billion the state is receiving in coronavirus relief aid.

As the next phase of reopening is set to begin Friday, the Texas Restaurant Association say the state government hasn't done enough to support local restaurant owners.

The Texas Restaurant Association is asking for $390 million of the $6.18 billion the state is receiving in coronavirus relief aid. 

About 12% of Texas restaurants have permanently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Emily Williams Knight, the CEO of the association. 

"We've seen nothing like this in our sector ever," Knight said.

If nothing changes with the planned state support for the restaurant industry, Knight said that 12% could grow to 30% of all Texas restaurants closing permanently. 

Restaurants were initially allowed to reopen for dine-in service May 1 at just 25% occupancy. Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing restaurants to expand capacity to 50% beginning Friday. 

But Knight says that plan isn't sustainable. Most restaurants don't have enough space to increase capacity while also keeping 6 feet of space between parties, as required by the state. 

She said restaurants need additional assistance to remain open. 

The $390 million is a part of the association's Texas Restaurant Survival Plan announced Wednesday, which includes eight parts:

  1. Create and fund the Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund (FIRF). 
  2. Award a workforce development grant to deploy high-quality, COVID-19 health and sanitation training to restaurants, bars and their employees. 
  3. Continue and expand the regulatory waivers that allow restaurants to sell retail bulk items, sealed containers of alcohol to-go with food orders, and prepared food in grocery stores. 
  4. Provide tax and fee relief to restaurants and bars that are negatively impacted by COVID-19 and government-mandated closures. 
  5. Enact liability protections for businesses, including foodservice businesses, that demonstrate reasonable, good-faith efforts to comply with COVID-19 protocols.
  6. Prohibit landlords from evicting or foreclosing restaurants or bars for non-payment of rent or mortgages during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  7. Suspend any new state or local government mandates set to come into effect for foodservice businesses over the next 120 days. 
  8. Prohibit third-party delivery companies from charging restaurants predatory fees.
Credit: Texas Restaurant Association
As of April 2020, Texas has seen the lowest number of restaurant jobs since 1989, according to the Texas Restaurant Association.

While there are already some programs in place to help restaurants, Knight said the smaller businesses with less money and resources are having a hard time getting what they need.

"Think about, for a moment, going about your day without a restaurant," Knight said. "That's the reality if we don't step in."

A key part of the association's plan would be to extend some of the benefits and waivers implemented because of COVID-19. Abbott temporarily waived certain restrictions that allowed businesses to sell retail bulk items and alcohol to-go with food orders.

The Texas Restaurant Association wants restaurants to permanently be able to do this.

The Texas Restaurant Association Education Fund (TRAEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that works to support restaurant workforce development, training, and safety. 

To see full details of the organization's plan, go to txrestaurant.org..

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