Dallas Restaurants Can Up Capacity to 75%, but Many Lack Space

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In some good news, COVID-related hospital stays are no longer possible. That means fewer people are seriously ill. It also means our frontline medical staff may have a breather.

Last October, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-32, which mandated that any trauma service area (TSA) that had seven consecutive days where 15% of their total hospital stays were COVID-19 related , must reduce the capacity of restaurants and retail stores to 50%. This mandate was triggered for the Dallas area (TSA E) in early December.

The percentage dropped below 15% on February 10 and, as NBCDFW first reported, has remained there since then. After the seven-day threshold was reached on February 16, restaurants with a capacity of 75% were allowed to open.

Bars have to remain closed, but many classified their stores as restaurants last summer and that capacity increase applies to those areas as well.

But you may want to hold back reservations for the birthday brunch. Even if restaurants are allowed to have more customers indoors, that doesn’t mean they have the space to do so. The parties must still be 6 feet apart. At 75% capacity, 6 feet is not feasible for most restaurants.

On top of that, we’re just below the 15% COVID-19 hospital threshold (11.2% on February 23). And as the vaccine rollout continues, it’s possible that we’ll round out the final round here. Nobody wants to disregard security protocols and thereby pave the way back to higher hospitalization rates.

As long as the threshold stays below 15%, restaurants with 75% capacity can stay open - or try anyway.

As long as the threshold stays below 15%, restaurants with 75% capacity can stay open – or try anyway.

Lauren Drewes Daniels / Texas Health and Human Services Dashboard

We have spoken to the restaurant owners in Dallas and it is clear they are struggling to add more seating but still see this as a good sign.

“It’s hard to figure out what to do,” says Mike Snider of the AllGood Cafe in Deep Ellum. “We always want to do the safest practices [and] As many people as possible are serving at the same time. Our maximum capacity was 100 before, now we can have 75 seats, which is much better than 50. ”

Snider has a deck which helps tremendously as outside areas are not included in the capacity restrictions. But he sees cases trending and hopes people will feel safer with the vaccine.

“They’ll still be wearing their masks and social distancing and using hand sanitizer, etc. It just seems like we’ve turned a corner and with common sense and all logs, dinner can be safe to eat,” says Snider.

The Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill is a 3,000 square foot restaurant in Plano. Owner Rick Oruch says they might be able to add a table on a busy Friday night, but that’s about it.

“Moving to 75% will have a bigger impact on restaurants that are over 5,000 square feet as they can accommodate more people,” Oruch says. “We expect more good weather for us as we continue to move additional tables outside to accommodate additional guests.”

Nikky Phinyawatana, owner of Asian Mint, says her restaurants are small and cannot open many tables, but, “This gives us all great hope that things are going in the right direction. Whether it is doable or not it all depends on the size of most restaurants. The sun is shining, we’re feeling great, it’s time to celebrate those victories. “

Franchesca Nor, owner of DIVE Coastal Cuisine, says they had pretty big success when the snowstorm closed much of town last week, including Valentine’s Day and Fat Tuesday, usually lucrative days for restaurants. She will take in any good news she can get. You are playing with some ideas on how to add a few more tables that will make a small but positive difference in sales.

As we previously reported, the National Restaurant Association recently reported that dining and drinking options lost 2.5 million jobs over the past year due to the coronavirus. Sales declined by $ 240 billion. The 25% capacity increase doesn’t fix any issues, but it’s a good step.

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