The bar, the counter where drinks are served, is what makes a bar a bar. For the time being though, those counters are off limits under the restrictions for COVID-19.
Effective today, bars are allowed to reopen in Texas at 25% capacity, and restaurants may increase their service capacity to 50%, but the state has decided that the actual bars in the bar must be closed to customers. The same goes for bars in restaurants. The decision was a setback for restaurant and bar owners who had hoped to use the bar areas for extra seating.
Texas Restaurant Association President and CEO Emily Williams Knight delivered the news on the organization’s website, writing that the medical experts cannot overcome their concerns about guests being so physically close to employees, common surfaces, glassware and other supplies.
“I know this isn’t good news for many of you, but I have every confidence that this will help us to move to 75% occupancy and more,” she wrote. “Already, we’ve had a number of conversations this week to talk through ideas to reduce the spacing between parties so when you move to 75% you aren’t so limited by the space. I am confident that if the COVID numbers continue to hold, we will get to 75% in early June and also have the ability to reconfigure to accommodate more customers.”
Restaurants and bars can still have seating in the bar and repurpose bar stools, as long as the bar seating is not at the bar top itself and parties are at least six feet apart. They can also repurpose the bar top for staging, to organize to-go orders, or for other work purposes.
Knight urged members to tackle this challenge like they have handled every other challenge and to continue to operate safely.