A return to previous business restrictions due to the sustained rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations occurs during the normally busy shopping and entertainment season.
Thursday marked the 7th day COVID-19 patients made up 15% or more of the total in hospitals in North Texas. This was the trigger for a return to 50% corporate occupancy instead of 75%.
The Bishop Arts District in Dallas was already set up for vacation shoppers.
“Bishop Arts was and is a great experience. Now we need people to spend some money, ”said business owner Cody Ellison.
He and a business partner run several businesses in Bishop Arts.
They opened a furniture store during the pandemic and turned away from women’s clothing as people spend more time at home and less time getting dressed to go out.
With lower occupancy limits, it may be necessary for an additional employee to monitor the door.
“That means that someone else’s sales are not doing quite as well as you were hoping,” said Ellison.
Restaurants added patio space to safely serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but cold weather makes patios less attractive.
Restaurant owner Joe Groves spoke on the empty patio at Ellen’s Restaurant in the Dallas West End on Thursday.
“We usually have about 40 or 45 people out here,” he said.
In order to maintain social distance between customers and employees within two meters, its restaurants in Dallas and Addison were 50% busy when the restaurants were allowed to 75%.
Groves said his employees got paid during the 14-week forced shutdown earlier this year, and things were just beginning to return to normal.
“People spend more money per person when they go out and they tip more generously,” he said. “We are now at the point where the waiters and kitchen staff are doing what they would have done before COVID.”
Business at 60 Vines Restaurant on Crescent in Uptown Dallas has also improved, according to CEO Jeff Carcara.
“We saw some successes and were hopeful. That new twist definitely got us back to focus on our takeaway, ”he said.
60 Vines has four locations across the country, two in North Texas.
Carcara said its restaurants are also 50% busy to allow safe social distancing. He said they have strong hygiene standards.
But Carcara said his company had staffing issues during the pandemic, even at half capacity.
“Each of these restaurants has made some effort to have a full staff every day.
Now, Carcara said the new restrictions present a new challenge to attracting businesses.
“The biggest factor is the fact that we tip and it’s unfortunate. And so it’s scary. And that perception or reality is likely to keep people in suspense, ”he said.
All of these business people said the COVID-19 challenge is to stay in business for the day customers return to shops and restaurants.