It’s been a while since anyone’s been into a bar in Texas, so things are bound to feel weird when they’re allowed to reopen this Friday. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday they'd be allowed to open as long as they follow a set of minimum safety guidelines aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus.
So, if you’re going to go – and we're not encouraging you to – you should be aware of how things will work.
The bar’s responsibilities:
- Bars will be allowed to let in only 25% of their permitted capacity, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait to get in. Staff must ensure at least 6 feet of distance between parties waiting to be allowed in.
- There must be a hand-sanitizing station available upon entry to the bar.
- No more than six people are allowed at a table.
- Tables must be arranged to keep parties at least 6 feet from each other — and those tables shouldn’t be moved.
- No silverware, condiments, glasses, etc., can be left on an unoccupied table.
- Silverware and menus must be disposable.
- Activities that put people close together, like dancing, are “discouraged.”
- Only people seated at a table will be served. Loitering in common areas (presumably this includes standing by the bar to get the bartender’s attention) is NOT allowed. In fact, the bar should be physically blocked off and stools at the bar removed.
- Employees should be trained in cleaning, disinfection and “respiratory etiquette.” (It's unclear exactly what this means.)
- Employees should be screened for symptoms of illness. If they have symptoms, they should not be allowed to return to work until three days after they recover and 10 days since symptoms started. If an employee is exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they can’t come back to work until the end of a 14-day self-quarantine.
- Employees must wash hands when they start work and after any interaction with a customer.
- Employees should stay 6 feet from customers and other employees. If that’s not possible, face masks should be used.
- Businesses should “consider” having employees wear face masks.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is supposed to monitor bars to make sure they’re following these guidelines and can suspend a bar’s license if they’re not.
- Self-screen for symptoms before going out. Cough? Sore throat? Fever? Stay home.
- Minimize contact with other people — stay 6 feet from anyone not in your party, especially people 65 and older.
- Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
- There can be no more than six people at your table.
- “Consider” wearing a face mask.
As always, drink responsibly.