Businesses expand capacity to 75% Monday, bars remain closed

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting Monday, new statewide guidelines will allow several industries to expand capacity up to 75%. This includes retail stores, restaurants, museums and libraries, gyms, office buildings and all manufacturing.

This only applies to 19 of the state’s 22 hospital regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations are 15% or less of the hospital’s building capacity.

At present, all of Central Texas meets those requirements with 3% or less. The latest numbers for the metropolitan statistical area of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties show only 79 people are hospitalized with 27 patients in the ICU and 16 on ventilators.

While some businesses expand, bars must remain closed.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission guidance readjusted its procedures last month to help bars and breweries. In order to open for dine-in services, 51% of sales must come from food.

Bars without a kitchen can team up with food trucks. At The Tigress Pub in central Austin, owner Pam Pritchard said they do not want to open the bar area for their safety. Instead, the started offering to-go cocktails in July with a purchase of grilled cheese sandwiches.

“We’re just going to keep doing it, inventing new ways to have special little things for our customers and we’re just going to take it one week at a time and just hopefully generate enough income so that we can keep the lights on,” Pritchard said.

Another bar owner, Rachelle Fox at The Cavalier, said she’s thankful her bar offers a full kitchen.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have that kitchen,” she said. “While some bars had to be shut down we were able to utilize that kitchen to be able to do a lot more takeout service.”

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