Texas continues to confront hundreds of new COVID-19 cases, including 1,700 new cases and 80 deaths reported in North Texas.
Restaurant and bar workers took to the Texas state capitol on Monday in protest of Governor Greg Abbott’s order ending the state-sanctioned mask mandate effective Wednesday.
Gov. Abbott said the state has the tools needed to fight COVID-19 now, so an edict is no longer necessary.
Critics and healthcare workers say the move is premature.
With less than 48 hours until the mask mandate is relaxed, business owners are preparing to enforce their own safety protocols.
Some owners are already encountering trouble.
Do not expect to walk into AllGood Café in Deep Ellum without a mask on, come Wednesday.
“We didn’t think that was very smart,” said owner Mike Snider of Gov. Abbott’s order. “We’re going to follow the CDC’s directions.”
Snider isn’t budging, despite suffering about a 50% loss in sales during the pandemic.
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“It’s not all about making money,” he said. “I’m not going to follow politicians. I’m going to follow the CDC and the doctors and the scientists. It’s pretty simple, not that hard to do.”
His stand has already garnered negative attention from at least one person who took to Google Reviews and gave the establishment a one-star review saying: 'Requires you to wear mask after lifted mandate. Spend your money elsewhere.’
“It’s kinda stupid. The guy that gave that one-star review is probably not even a customer,” said Snider. “He’s not going to come here; he’s going to go somewhere else and he doesn’t need to come here!”
Loyal customers of the establishment that’s been in business for over 20 years have since taken to Google Reviews to leave five-star reviews.
A new informal poll by the Texas Restaurant Association asked over 700 members:
Will you continue to require your staff to wear masks and face coverings after March 10?
According to the association, 17% said ‘no,’ 73% said yes and 10% said they were ‘unsure.’
When restaurant owners were asked if they would require customers to wear face coverings after March 10, 38% said yes, 43% said no and 19% said they were unsure.’
Despite, anti-maskers attempting to make a stand on the basis of their Constitutional rights, business owners do have the right to refuse service.
The National Restaurant Association says businesses can refuse service, even under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Restaurants must provide ‘equal enjoyment of goods and services to individuals with disabilities,’ so a restaurant must consider reasonable accommodation for the guest like curbside delivery.
The NRA states: ‘However, a restaurant need not accommodate a guest if doing so would impede the business’s ability to safely provide its goods and services. Under current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, allowing unmasked members of the public into business establishments creates a health and safety risk.’
Snider says he would be happy to provide a suitable alternative if it means keeping his staff and other customers safe.
“We still have really good food. You want chicken fried steak? We have the best chicken fried steak in town,” he said. “You want it? Come and get it. You wear a mask if you go in. If you don’t, get it curbside. It’s pretty easy.”
Restaurants in both Dallas and Fort Worth told NBCDFW the Governor's decision last week took them by surprise.
“It was kind of like a slap in the face, I immediately teared up and was not expecting that at all," said Nora Palomino, Co-Owner of Los Zarapes Restaurant in North Fort Worth.
Los Zarapes will continue to require masks and social distancing. And beyond concerns about public health, many restaurant owners believe the Governor has put them in a bad spot.
“Abbott basically transferred the burden to us to be the enforcer and that is a little bit unfortunate," said Brooks Anderson, who co-owns Dallas Restaurants Boulevardier, Rapscallion and Hillside Tavern.
In an effort to avoid violent confrontations between employees and customers, the NRA also recommends businesses take the following steps:
Make signage very clear so customers know what is required at the door.
Provide no-contact delivery, if possible.
Consider providing guests a free mask at the door.
Assign the right team member to effectively communicate the rules to customers.