As COVID-19 infections soar across Dallas and Tarrant counties, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has asked Gov. Greg Abbott to close bowling alleys, gyms and restaurant dining rooms.
“If the governor says, 'let's leave the restaurants open for another week or two and let's just see what happens,' well, we know what will happen,” Jenkins said. “We don't even have that luxury anymore. This thing has gotten so out of control.”
“I definitely understand the concern. You want everybody to be safe and you really don’t want to see these cases continue to rise,” Greenville Avenue Pizza Company owner Sammy Mandell said.
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Mandell has been a restaurateur in Dallas for nearly 15 years and said 2020 has been a year like no other.
“The curveballs just keep getting thrown,” Mandell said.
He already made the decision to close his dining rooms again but does not support a mandated closure.
“When the cases spiked, even we closed our doors, but we are still allowing ‘to go’ and take out,” Mandell said. “We want to get to a day when we can open our doors soon and it is very scary hearing that they might shut us down again and prolong that time-frame of getting back open.”
It was a tough decision to close after upgrading his dining room area to make dining safer.
“We went through lengths of installing a lot of plexiglass. We have a sanitization company come in. We have all these things we are doing now to make it safe,” Mandell said. “We just thought, 'maybe let’s just wait a couple of weeks and we’ll reopen again.' But now that we are hearing that they may shut them back down fully – we’re like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Mandell said customers are already starting to shift their habits without forced dining room closures.
“A lot of the people I have seen in the past couple of weeks, ever since these numbers have been on the incline, a lot of people are kind of staying away,” Mandell said. “Without them making an official order people are already kind of not coming out to restaurants. So, I don’t really feel it’s necessary for them to just make that call when already so many patrons have decided to not go out.”
He and many other restaurant owners fear what a complete mandated dining room closure will mean for the future of local eateries.
“I know a couple of business owners that are already letting their staff go for the second time,” Mandell said. “So, the more they play with that, the harder it’s going to be for our economy to get going back up again.”
Gov. Abbott has already re-closed bars and scaled by the allowed capacity for restaurants from 75% to 50%.