Texas Restaurant Association asks Abbott to establish ‘one set of rules’ on masks

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Leadership of the Texas Restaurant Association on Friday called on Gov. Greg Abbott to issue statewide rules on mask requirements, as communities across the state issue local health orders requiring masks be worn in businesses.

Emily Williams Knight, president of the Texas Restaurant Association, said restaurant employees should not be responsible for enforcing public health orders. Travis, Hays, Bexar and Dallas counties have all issued orders mandating businesses to require masks to be worn by employees and customers.

Gov. Greg Abbott earlier in the week said local governments cannot require citizens to wear masks but can issue orders governing businesses.

“From an operations standpoint, I’m deeply concerned about safety,” Knight said. “If you look back at the early days of COVID-19, you did see instances where there was altercations between employees and consumers when it came to masks.”

In Travis County, businesses that don’t develop and implement a mask requirement plan could face up to a $1,000 fine.

“It’s not reasonable to say, ‘Today you’re a host, tomorrow you’re a police officer,'” said Ellis Winstanely, president of El Arroyo Restaurant. “Putting anybody, but especially young people, in that position is a little bit irresponsible for the local leadership to push that on them like that.”

Requiring masks is another adjustment for Bar Peached owner Eric Silverstein but one he welcomes.

“I think my initial reaction was it was necessary,” Silverstein said. “I think people are getting used to operating this way. It’s going to be the new normal for the time being.”

The Texas Restaurant Association will announce next week a new free, online training program for member restaurants, as well as a partnership with an outside company to provide on-site evaluation of restaurant operations during the pandemic.

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