AUSTIN, TX (April 27, 2020) – The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) applauds Governor Abbott for outlining a clear, science-based approach for Texas to accomplish what must be our two priorities – protecting public health and preventing economic collapse. We are particularly grateful that Governor Abbott’s order:
- Allows restaurants to reopen their dining spaces with the necessary health protocols beginning May 1.
- Models the public health guidance TRA created in the “Texas Restaurant Promise.”
- Greatly expands Texas’ testing and tracing protocols to ensure we reopen safely.
- Recognizes that more than 50% of Texas counties have 5 or fewer confirmed cases and can elect to reopen with a higher capacity threshold.
- Maintains the regulatory waivers that allow restaurants to sell alcohol to-go and retail products, continuing a source of revenue that restaurants will need during the long and steep road to recovery.
- Gives the public a checklist for health protocols when visiting a restaurant.
- Provides a timeline of May 18th in order to collect data and prepare to move to greater occupancy levels.
- Supersedes local orders to ensure consistency and predictability across the State.
Texas restaurants are struggling to survive after COVID-19 and government-mandated closures. Projections indicate nearly 700,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in revenue will be lost in the State by the end of April. Like most Texans, restaurant owners, operators, and employees can no longer afford to choose between their health or their paycheck.
At the same time, Texas restaurants know we need enhanced safety efforts to combat COVID-19. TRA has been working diligently with public health experts and restaurants of all sizes to develop standards that can be adopted across the State to allow for a safe and thoughtful reopening. This effort culminated with the “Texas Restaurant Promise,” a list of public health commitments reflecting CDC guidance that TRA is asking restaurants and their customers to make to each other. As Governor Abbott and our other leaders emphasized today, reopening safely depends on a partnership between businesses and their customers. We’re very pleased to see that the standards Governor Abbott announced today mirror the Texas Restaurant Promise. We’re also very grateful that Governor Abbott has answered the call for consistency and predictability across the State.
Even as restaurants are allowed to reopen beginning May 1, we continue to emphasize that no restaurant should reopen its dining spaces until it is ready to do so. Texas restaurants are experts in safety, sanitation, and customer satisfaction, and we know that these values will continue to drive their decision making.
Above all, TRA is committed to a sustained recovery, and so we will continue to work closely with our members, policymakers, customers, and allied partners to ensure this transition is as safe and successful as possible as capacities are increased and bars can be included in businesses that can reopen.
Update: There has been confusion on Governor Abbott's order and whether the 25% includes staff or does not. It was never the intent of the order to include staff in the occupancy cap, and TRA has received confirmation from the governor's office. See below.