Two groups — the Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance — recently gave Gov. Greg Abbott ideas on how the two groups would propose reopening of bars.
The restaurant association’s plan, called the Texas Bar Promise, offers guidelines on how bars can open while ensuring the safety of customers and employees.
Among the key recommendations of the association’s plan are:
• Bars would create physically designated “individual party areas” within an establishment to maintain social distancing.
• Groups would be limited to six people and a group would have to keep 6 feet away from any other group.
• A designated employee would enforce the rules during each shift.
• Bars would make hand-sanitizing stations available.
• Menus would be disposable or digital.
• Employees would receive health screenings before every shift.
• Garnishes, glassware and other items typically available at a bar top would not be accessible to customers.
The nightclub alliance’s 10-point plan is similar to the restaurant association’s recommendations and includes:
• Using plastic cups and paper plates.
• Cleaning and disinfecting common areas and surfaces regularly, as well as cleaning and disinfecting each party’s area after every use.
• Posting signs at the establishment reminding customers of best hygiene and required social distancing practices.
Texas bars have lost about 75,000 jobs and $630 million in revenue because of the shutdowns. It has also cost the state about $40 million in liquor tax revenue, said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, the Texas Restaurant Association’s vice president of government affairs and advocacy.
Bar owners had hoped to get Abbott’s go-ahead to reopen Friday. That doesn’t appear likely. Instead the alliance is encouraging a soft reopening Friday for employees only and not the general public.
Abbott has not offered his thoughts on the two groups’ proposals. But when he announced two weeks ago that restaurants and hair salons could reopen, he said he hoped to have bars reopened by mid-May.
Earlier this week, Abbott told the CBS affiliate in Dallas, “All we’re working on is solutions that will be somewhat similar to restaurants to provide bars an opportunity to open up.”
Granted, the argument is that it will be up to each establishment to police itself. But that is true for salons, restaurants and all other businesses.
Still, we think the two groups’ proposals make sense, and Abbott should consider allowing employees of bars to go back to work.
• Dave Mathews