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Texas Bars Can Reopen Friday At 25% Capacity. How Will They Adapt To The New Normal?

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Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels CC0: https://bit.ly/36bs8I9

The next phase of Gov. Abbott's plan to restart the economy includes reopening Texas' approximately 5,500 bars, taverns and nightclubs at 25% capacity this Friday

The service industry has taken a major financial hit amid the pandemic. Without the ability for patrons to dine-in and congregate at full capacity, revenue for restaurants, bars and other nightlife activities plummeted.

Bar industry losses during the shutdown period are at more than $630 million and the state has missed out on at least $42 million in liquor tax revenue. An estimated 75,000 jobs were affected.

Various Texas bar owners upset with the continued closures held a symbolic “soft open” on May 15 to signal that their willingness and readiness to reopen, including some in San Antonio. 

Restaurants, unlike bars, were able to offer curbside and to-go orders as a stop-gap measure during the shutdown. Dining rooms were allowed to reopen May 1 at 25% capacity with enhanced cleaning protocols and will be able to increase to 50% on Friday.

The Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance had called on Abbott to reopen bars. The TRA recently presented the state's reopening task force with a "Texas Bar Promise" that includes guidelines for bars and patrons to prioritize social distancing and sanitation, similar to the previously issued "Texas Restaurant Promise."

How are bars going to create a safe environment for patrons now that they too have been given the green light? What guidelines and recommendations have been issued for how to reopen safely? 

How will social distancing be maintained? Are there different restrictions for indoor and outdoor establishments? What are the biggest health concerns for bars to be mindful of at this time?

Can bars and nightclubs be profitable at 25% capacity? How will their reopening affect service industry employees' ability to collect unemployment benefits? When could capacity limits be lifted further?

Guests:

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call  833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, May 19.

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.