Who is making sure businesses are only at 25% capacity?


HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Jeff Harper reopened his San Marcos restaurant as soon as he could — Friday, May 1.

“It’s been a little bit stressful, not knowing exactly what the next day would bring,” says Harper, co-owner of Figaro’s Pizza & Pub.

The San Marcos, Buda and Kyle fire departments are working with businesses if they need help calculating capacity.

“We just went with our fire marshal occupancy level of the building and then spread it out from inside to outside,” Harper explains.

In Buda, building official William Ince helps the fire marshal determines capacity plans.

“If we do hit that limit we’ll just have to encourage to go business or for people to wait until a table opens back up,” says Figaro’s co-owner Jeff Harper, referring to the governor’s 25% capacity limit. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

“The biggest issue that we have is the communication between the owners and the city, where some of them might not have an established occupant rating. So we’ll actually go in there and figure that out and calculate that for them,” Ince says.

He also checks up on those plans later.

“If there is a complaint, we’ll address it,” Ince says. He added that they’ll also randomly drive by and “make a personal visit,” if they see anything of concern.

San Marcos Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner says they only check up on capacity compliance if they receive a complaint.

The City of Buda says 21 businesses have reopened and 26 are choosing not to.

One challenge, Ince says, is that owners now have limited staff.

“You were a skeleton crew at the beginning and now you have to have 10 or 15 employees come back,” he says.

That’s been a challenge for Harper, too, in San Marcos, but he hopes the struggles make them stronger in the long run.

“If anything, it’s grown our to-go business and I’m hoping maybe we maintain some of that,” he says. “Maybe we’ll end up better than ever after the whole thing — we hope.”

The Hays County Fire Marshal helps businesses in unincorporated areas.

He says once they calculate your maximum occupancy, businesses will have to post the certificate.

County suggestions

Hays County recommends businesses try the following guidelines to help them comply with the 25% rule:

Retail stores – Keep track of the number of people you let in and stop allowing entrance once you achieve 25% of the occupancy. As patrons exit, you can allow that same number of new patrons to enter. Remind patrons that waiting in lines inside and outside or at check out is to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. 

Dine in Restaurants (less than 51%) – Move 75% of the tables and chairs out of the way if they are not fixed in place. Do not block any exit pathways or exits. It’s suggested that you space the remaining tables six feet apart to maintain social distancing. Booths can be used every other booth. For fixed tables and for the unused tables and chairs; rope off, tape off, plastic wrap, stack chairs/tables and place out of service signs on them. You will not be allowed to add extra tables or chairs than what you had prior to shutting down. This includes patios, outdoors, etc. 

Movie Theaters – You can place signs on chairs, rope off unused rows, bag seats, etc. to achieve the 25% maximum. Ushers should sit patrons in families/groups that came together and maintain 6 feet between groups. 

Libraries – Remove selected chairs and computers keyboards and mouse to maintain 6 feet social distancing between parties. Monitor patrons as they enter and exit to achieve the 25% maximum. Remind people in lines to maintain 6 feet distance. 

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