COVID-19 And Businesses: H-E-B Workers Wear Masks; Find Restaurants Offering Curbside Takeout | Texas Public Radio

COVID-19 And Businesses: H-E-B Workers Wear Masks; Find Restaurants Offering Curbside Takeout

Apr 3, 2020

Grocery stores, drug stores, phone companies, restaurants and food delivery companies continue to make adjustments to business practices during the coronavirus crisis. They're also offering a variety of deals to their customers.

Here are the latest details on those changes to operations and other policies:

H-E-B

H-E-B is providing employees masks and gloves for use at work.

The gear will also be provided to Central Market, Joe V's Smart Shop and Mi Tienda locations.

All H-E-B partners, warehouses, manufacturing, and transportation facilities are also strongly encouraged to wear masks.

Some of the other public health measures H-E-B has taken to protect its staff and customers include the installation of plexiglass partitions at checkstands, metered entry into stores, and crowd control guidelines to manage customer traffic.

The grocery chain also announced that it is working with a few local restaurants to bring in some of their beloved menu items as ready-made meals. They started with a handful of restaurants in San Antonio to fast track them into stores, testing the concept as a way to support local restaurants and chefs. They started with Max & Louie’s. They are also working with Rosarios.

People wait to enter H-E-B.
Credit Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio

Also, the store has partnered with Favor Delivery to launch a simple, low-cost solution that gives seniors access to their own personal shopper by phone, allowing them to get essential food and supplies delivered to them at home.

Seniors across Texas aged 60 and older can place orders with Favor using a curated list of products available from H-E-B.

Store hours remain 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to allow for sanitizing and stocking of stores.

The grocery chain reports they have received offers of volunteer help, but they say the best way for customers to help them is to bag their own groceries, throw away trash in carts and return carts to the front of the store.

It also suggested shopping for neighbors in need.

Restaurant information

To help keep local restaurants and the 57,000 food service employees in the city afloat, NOWCastSA created this map.

Get added by emailing news@nowcastsa.org with subject line, "AddMeToTheMap"

More restaurant resources

A new website helps customers learn which restaurants and other food related businesses are open and offering takeout.

SATakeOut.com provides an interactive map for San Antonians to locate eating establishments, their hours of operation, and their food offerings.

The website is the brainchild of Belkis Lane, an equipment and supply specialist at Mission Restaurant Supply, who said she launched it as a community service and not to monetize it.

More than hundreds of restaurants and food related businesses are listed. Restaurants not listed have the option of signing up at the website too.

The city has also created a special website for restaurants, specifically for customers still craving their favorite dishes. Check it out here.

Mi Tierra sold much of its food because its dining hall had to close to the public.
Credit Nathan Cone | Texas Public Radio

Restaurant owners may also add their establishments to the list.

Businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak may find assistance from Culinaria Emergency Relief Fund, San Antonio Tip Jar, Bartender Emergency Assistance Program and Dining Bonds Initiative.

UberEats / DoorDash / Grubhub

Uber Eats is waiving for delivery fees for restaurants.

Uber is also offering no contact deliveries to homes by leaving orders on doorsteps as restaurants seal meals with tamper-evident packaging.

It also plans to donate 300,000 free meals to first responders and health care workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Food delivery service company Door Dash will also offer a no contact delivery option for customers, and its delivery personnel are using hand sanitizer and gloves while on the job.

Grubhub is temporarily suspending collection of up to $100 million in commission payments from impacted independent restaurants whose on-site dining is suffering as diners stay home.

Border crossings change hours of operation

International bridges between Brownsville and Del Rio will see temporary changes to their hours of operation.

The Customs and Border Protection Laredo Field Office has seen a significant decrease in crossings because of the closure of the border to non-essential traffic.

CBP says the change in operational hours will allow officials to observe necessary safety requirements.

Eight crossings will be affected, including those in Eagle Pass, Rio Grande City, and Donna. The changes go into effect Monday April 6th.

CBP officials said these will be the hours of operation for processing of northbound passenger vehicle traffic:

  1. Eagle Pass International Bridge I: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  2. Falcon Dam International Bridge: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (since April 2)
  3. Rio Grande City International Bridge: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hand sanitizer production

Maverick Whiskey’s distillery is working seven days a week to produce sanitizer. Most of what is produced will be given to the City of San Antonio, local health care workers and essential safety organizations.

A worker at Maverick Whiskey distillery.
Credit Courtesy photo

The company plans to continue production as long as ingredients are available. They are asking for donations in the form of yellow dent #2 corn to continue production.

A rolling list has been created for donation and bulk purchase inquiry. Maverick Whiskey asks that requests be submitted via email to mrfey@maverickwhiskey.com, or by calling (210) 447-7010.

Also, Rebecca Creek Distillery plans to donate up to 3,000 bottles of hand sanitizers to the City of San Antonio, and it delivered its first 1,000 bottles of alcohol-based sanitizer on Tuesday.

The company temporarily shifted their production operations to manufacture the sanitizer. The hand cleaner is 80 percent ethanol alcohol.

Valero Energy Corporation will begin production of hand sanitizer in bulk. It says its ethanol operations began production of hand sanitizer at its ethanol plant in Hartley, Iowa.

Valero expects to distribute its sanitizer to its ethanol plants and refineries and to local hospitals and emergency care providers.

Diaper Bank

The Texas Diaper Bank has modified its assistance programs to serve families affected by COVID-19.

Families who enroll can receive 150 diapers per child, the equivalent of 3 months of services. Seniors enrolled in the incontinence assistance program will receive 6 months of supplies.

Distributions are curbside on an appointment only basis. The bank says its supplies are rapidly depleting.

To enroll or to donate, visit TexasDiaperBank.org.

Showing luminous support

San Antonio residents are encouraged to light front doors, porches and balconies on Saturday, April 3rd, at 7:30 p.m. in a show of support of front line medical workers and first responders during the coronavirus outbreak.

The “Unite with Light” effort was started by District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran around Brooks City Base, and now other areas of the city have been invited to join in.

The Office of Emergency Management, which is coordinating the local response to the coronavirus outbreak, is located in the Brooks City Base area.

Share photos and video with the hashtag #UnitedWithLightSA and follow the event through the evening.

Booz Allen helps workers

A management and information technology consulting firm is making a big pledge to its local employees and San Antonio to get through the coronavirus outbreak. The company has reallocated $100 million to support its 27,000 employees – including those in San Antonio.

Booz Allen says San Antonio is one of ten cities to receive additional, targeted support from the program.

Part of the money will help its nearly 600 local employees with childcare or healthcare costs related to the virus. Workers are also guaranteed a job through at least July 1.

The company is also making donations to help military members and the San Antonio Food Bank.

Funeral services

Helen Loring Dear of Porter Loring Mortuaries said mourners can go to porterloring.com and upload pictures of themselves and messages.

Both are printed up and placed on thick paper with faces on the front and messages on the back. Then they are placed in the pews at indoor services..

“This makes it look like the people that sent messages are actually there for the service,” she said.

The new practice is called From My Heart to Yours. She said it was inspired by an Italian priest who had all of his congregation printed up for display during live-streamed sermons.

Mission Park Chapels and Cemeteries offers drive-in funerals where mourners can watch services on a big screen from the comfort of their vehicles.

Walgreens / CVS

Most stores are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays. The 24 hour stores are drive through only, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Credit Pixabay

There is a senior day every Tuesday for customers 55 and older from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

It's also waiving delivery fees on eligible home deliveries.

CVS store and pharmacy hours can vary slightly, so call ahead to be sure.

CVS is also waiving delivery fees on eligible home deliveries.

Hand sanitizer

San Antonio-based Artisan Distillery has turned from vodka and whiskey-making to ethanol production to create hand sanitizer.

The distillery at 315 8th Street sells 750 ml bottles of sanitizer for $10 each. Large orders can be filled by contacting nick@ArtisanOnAlamo.com.

Eyeglasses

Dietz-McClean Optical is offering curbside service for eyeglass repair and has free delivery for all products. It also offers mobile visits. The company has locations that remain open generally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Walmart

Walmart has announced plans to check the temperatures of its employees when they arrive for work using infrared thermometers. Employees with temperatures of 100 degrees or more will be sent home.

Masks and gloves are also being sent to all stores for employees to wear. Walmart reports the thermometers, masks, and gloves should be in all stores the next two or three weeks.

The store offers a “senior hour” every Tuesday through April 28th, so seniors 60 and older can shop for one before current business hours.

Walmart store hours are 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at most locations.

Also, the store is hiring thousands of new associates through the end of May for stores, clubs, distribution, and fulfillment centers to keep up with customer demand placed on the retailer by the coronavirus. Visit Walmartcareers.com to apply.

It also plans to pay $365 million in bonuses to associates for working through the health crisis and offer emergency leave to associates who may be impacted by the illness.

Property tax rendition extensions

State Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminds business owners that April 15 is the deadline to file property tax renditions with their county appraisal districts, but extensions are available.

Business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may request -- in a written note to the chief appraiser -- an extension of the deadline to May 15. However, some appraisal districts already have extended the deadline, so check with your local appraisal district first.

A rendition is a list of the taxable inventory, furniture and fixtures, machinery, equipment and other property owned or managed as of Jan. 1 of each year.

Texas Veterans Land Board

The board is offering loan relief to veterans with VLB loans. The assistance comes because of the coronavirus outbreak.

These relief measures include a temporary moratorium on credit reporting, evictions and foreclosures, and a temporary suspension of late payment penalties. Land board officials say current borrowers with loans should contact their loan servicer for assistance and more information.

VIA

VIA has announced several changes to bus operations that take effect April 6th and continue until further notice because of the coronavirus.

All VIA bus routes will run on Saturday schedules Mondays through Fridays. Weekend routes will not change. VIA Trans and VIA Link operations will continue as usual.

Credit Courtesy VIA Metropolitan Transit

Routes 16 and 65 will not operate due to Joint Base San Antonio restrictions.

Routes 30, 36, 42, and 515 will not serve extended routes.

VIVA routes 11, 40, and 301 will not be operational.

Fare relief has been extended until April 30th so riders and drivers can practice social distancing. VIA has also removed some seats on buses and vans to keep passengers a safe distance apart.

All travel on buses is for essential trips only.

SeaWorld

SeaWorld San Antonio has also announced it will be closed until further notice. Annual passes, season passes, and memberships will be automatically extended for as long as the temporary closure period.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas announced it will suspend operations through at least mid-May.

Guests with prepaid tickets will see those validated through the end of the 2020 season. Season pass holders will be extended for the same number of days the park was closed.

Members will receive an additional month for each month the park is closed and a free membership level upgrade for the rest of the 2020 season.

Organized neighborhood shopping

City officials are encouraging organized shopping to thin the crowds at supermarkets. Major grocers are often packed, while smaller grocery stores are overlooked.

City officials say neighborhoods could use Next Door or other social media to put a neighborhood plan together.

A neighborhood plan could look like this: Odd house numbers shop on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, while even house numbers shop on Thursday and Saturdays. Sundays could be used for seniors in a neighborhood to go to the store.

City officials say participants could put a sign with #taketurns in the window and use #taketurns to promote neighborhood shopping.

Texas DMV

Bexar County Tax Assessor Collector Albert Uresti reminds county residents a temporary waiver to obtain initial registrations, renewal registrations and renewal of disability placards is in place.  

This temporary waiver applies to all vehicle owners in all Texas counties.  The waiver is in effect until 60 days after the notice is lifted and regular services have resumed.  

Effective immediately, there is no requirement for a title application to be submitted within a specific time.

As a result, the delinquent transfer penalty does not apply to any title applications submitted between March 16 and 60 days after the TxDMV provides notice that normal titling services have resumed.

This extension does not apply to seller-financed motor vehicle sales.  In these cases, the tax is reported and paid directly to the Comptroller’s office instead of the Tax Assessor-Collector upon registration.

Contact their office at 210-335-2251 for more information. 

Costco

Costco stores will now close at 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and gas stations will close at 7 p.m. Weekend hours will remain the same. Business centers will continue during their current hours.

Banks

Security Service Federal Credit Union's Loan Assistance Program offers 90-day extensions on most loans. Extensions are being offered on auto, business and personal loans. Mortgage and credit card relief is also available. Details of the various options available are listed on the credit union website at ssfcu.org under the COVID-19 Member Relief Programs tab.

Frost Bank is offering low interest loans with predictable fees. English speaking customers call 1-800-513-7678. Spanish speaking customers call 210-220-4511.

Broadway Banks is offering special arrangement payment plans and loan deferrals. Customers in need should call 1-800-531-7650.

Chase Bank reports customers who need assistance with mortgage payments should call 1-800-848-9380. Military members should call 1-877-469-0110. Chase offers loan deferrals up to three months on other consumer loans.

Bank of America says customers can sign up for credit card payment deferrals. It is also offering client’s assistance with mortgages and other loans at its website.

St. Anthony Hotel

The historic hotel has temporarily suspended operations and plans to reopen on May 31.

Reservations for June 1 or after can be made at thestanthonyhotel.com.

Target

Target has stopped accepting in-store product returns and exchanges through mid-April, but say returns will be honored for a three week period after that.

Its checkers will not handle reusable bags, so customers need to be prepared to bag their own. Checkout lanes will be cleaned after every transaction.

Stores are still closing at at 9 p.m. for cleaning and stocking. They are reserving the hour between 8 a.m. and 9.a.m. for seniors and those with underlying medical conditions.

Whole Foods

Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Seniors 60 and older are welcome to shop one hour before regular business hours. Reusable beverage containers will not be refilled and self-serve areas are closed. Social distancing procedures in place.

Dollar General

Dollar General is devoting the first hour of store operations to senior citizens shoppers, who are among people at-risk to COVID-19. They will receive priority so they may better avoid crowds and access a greater variety and amount of products.

Also, several Dollar General stores close one hour earlier to better enable employees to restock shelves.

Smart phone deals

More people are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak and using more data to get their jobs done.

Verizon is adding an additional 15GB to all consumer and small business plans at no extra charge starting Wednesday. The 15GB of additional 4G LTE hotspot data applies to their unlimited customers -- to power laptops, tablets and other connected devices.

It also means 15 additional gigabytes of data for those on shared data plans.

Verizon will not terminate service, and it will waive late fees. They are also offering affordable new internet options for low income households.

T-Mobile has introduced T-Mobile Connect and claims it is its lowest price smartphone plan yet.

It has also added lower-cost options for Metro by T-Mobile to help ensure everyone has a more affordable option to stay connected.

Customers on an unlimited data plan with Boost Mobile have received an additional 20 gigs of mobile hotspot on their plans at no additional cost through April 30th.

Customers on a tiered plan with Boost Mobile have received an additional 20 gigs of data on their plan at no cost through April 30th.

AT&T is suspending broadband usage caps for home internet customers. AT&T reports its Wi-Fi calling soared 78% Monday versus a Monday before the virus outbreak.

Malls

North Star Mall is temporarily closed except for essential restaurants with exterior facing entrances.

La Cantera, devoid of shoppers.
Credit Kathleen Creedon | Texas Public Radio

Ingram Park Mall is closed except for essential retailers. South Park Mall is also closed.

Store hours at The Rim could vary, so call ahead to individual outlets. Some bars and restaurants will still offer take out food.

At the Shops at La Cantera, some stores with exterior facing entrances may be open. Call ahead.

Outlets at the Forum At Olympia Parkway have adjusted their hours. Some stores have closed and other times vary. Call ahead to individual stores.

Dry cleaners

Slater & White continues to offer 24 hour drop off service for dry cleaning. Rose Cleaners and Comet Cleaners are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Comet also offers free home and office delivery and pickup. Five Star Cleaners is also open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Assistance for businesses

Small businesses in Texas are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business, at an interest rate of 3.75 percent. Businesses are eligible if they do not have credit available elsewhere.

The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. Long term repayments can be made for a maximum of 30 years.

Norma Martinez, Lauren Terrazas and Steve Short contributed to this report.
Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.