Bar group shares plans for safe reopening

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The Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance recently shared its plan for a safe and sustainable reopening of onsite service for Texas bars.

Due to restrictions aimed at curtailing the spread of coronavirus, bars that do not meet the current food sales requirements set by Gov. Gregg Abbott have been closed.

“Our industry is suffering right now and every day in which some of our members are closed will be the last day they are ever in business. The current statewide orders are a total farce. Some restaurants are acting like bars and some bars acting like restaurants. You have big-time operators open while neighborhood bars are dying. It’s just a regulatory circus,” said Michael Klein, TBNA founder and president.

TBNA’s proposed plan has six major principles largely based on what has been proven successful in other similar industries since the initial reopenings in May. Furthermore, having a uniform set of standards that can be enforced locally will help ensure there are no more blanket, statewide shutdowns.

According to the TBNA, those principles are the following: >> Indoor space occupancy not to exceed 50%; Outdoor open-air occupancy limited only to each businesses’ ability to implement appropriate social distancing of tables in its outdoor spaces.

>> All seating must conform to CDC guidelines (e.g. six feet apart minimum) and hand sanitizer stations required at all entrances/exits.

>> All patrons must be seated while inside the establishment with their own cohort with no cohort mingling. No dance floors, stages, or other mixed-cohort areas allowed.

>> Masks required by patrons at all times unless seated and served, including entering, exiting, and moving from one area of the bar to another. Masks will be required by all staff at all times while working.

>> In addition to checking identification for appropriate age, bars must conduct a temperature check and basic symptom assessment of all customers before allowing entry.

>> Open partnership with any local and state officials/agencies to provide necessary oversight of individual bars’ adherence to reopening plan in order to close bad actors and ensure widespread industry compliance.

Klein went on: “Texas is continuing to coexist with this virus and we have strong models for success in similar businesses, such as restaurants— many of which serve an incredibly high volume of alcohol—that are a blueprint for us to follow. We are asking the Governor, along with our local elected officials, to aide in the implementation and enforcement of these principles and help us get to a place where all bars can open safely and sustainably.”

TBNA will work with its members, industry stakeholders, local and state government agencies and officials to socialize this uniform plan in anticipation of a statewide “Safe Sustainable Reopening” event designed to showcase how good bar owners implementing proven best practices should be allowed to conduct onsite business in Texas before it is too late.

The date for this event will be announced soon, according to the TBNA.