Dallas Businesses Strive to Comply with COVID-19 Occupancy Rules

Capacity lowered to 50% occupancy for non-essential businesses imposed Friday

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Dallas businesses worked to comply Friday with the first day of a new round of restrictions to combat the coronavirus.

Because of high hospitalization rates for the virus, bars were told they must close and businesses considered non-essential were to cut back to 50% occupancy from 75%.

In Oak Cliff, landlord Amanda Moreno Lake said she was concerned that additional limits on customers in stores may force more of her tenants to close their doors.

“They're not used to not selling anything at all. So, it's very difficult for them,” she said.

 The landlord said she counts on paying tenants to help her pay taxes and mortgages.

COVID-19 numbers have been especially high in Oak Cliff.

“It's touched everybody. It's touched virtually every family. It's touched our coworkers,” Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce Chairman Steve Camp said.

As occupancy restrictions tighten again, the chamber of commerce is pushing for a new round of government stimulus money to help businesses, local government and schools.

“People can’t work if they can’t send their children to school,” Camp said. “There's a lot of things that need to happen and it costs money and the money's going to have to come from the federal government.”

Some businesses are relying on innovation to keep customers coming through their doors.

Coolgreens operates nine restaurants in three states and is planning to expand to Florida amid the pandemic.

“We're all learning to play with a new set of rules and those that can pivot and can adjust are going to be OK. We've just got to hang on,” Coolgreens President Todd Madlener said. “We believe out of this is going to come some great innovation.”

His Greenville Avenue location in Dallas stayed at 50% occupancy when 75% was allowed. Madlener said his business is still strong with online ordering and to-go service that involves little human contact.

“If your team’s not comfortable, they’re not going to provide that great guest experience. If your guests aren’t comfortable, they’re not coming,” he said.

Moreno Lake said she has seen many holiday shoppers and that gives her reason to be hopeful about the future once there is a COVID-19 vaccine.  She said she believes workers will return to offices.

“Whenever you have a company, you have to have a team and you have to be able to work together,” she said. “I hope I'll be able to survive but I know a lot of new business owners won't be.”

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