Texas Bar Promise

*IMPORTANT* 
From open.texas.gov: All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00PM June 26, 2020. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The Texas Bar Promise will be updated as soon as we have more information from Governor Abbott.

 

THE TEXAS BAR PROMISE

All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages were required to close by Gov. Abbott’s executive order as of noon on June 26, 2020. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

TRA is working with the governor’s office in the hopes of clarifying this standard to exclude restaurants, breweries taprooms, wineries, and distilleries with permanent food operations. If we receive additional guidance on this topic, we will share it as quickly as possible. We will also continue to work with our partners in the bar industry to implement the Texas Bar Promise and procedures that must be followed to reopen and stay open.

The bar industry has an outstanding track record of protecting our employees and guests. To ensure everyone’s safety as we welcome you back into our establishments, we ask that we make the following promises to each other:

OUR PROMISE TO YOU

We will continue to be a leader in safe sanitation, alcohol service, and food handling practices, with certified food handlers/managers when applicable. We will designate a health & safety manager to enforce social distancing guidelines and to train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.

We will follow all of the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Bars adopted by the State, including:

  • Parties will maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other parties at all times, including while waiting for a seating space and while seated at the bar. We will facilitate this with tables or chairs to designate individual party areas and other signage.
  • Parties will have no more than 10 people. Service will only be provided to seated individuals.
  • A designated health & safety manager will enforce social distancing requirements during every shift.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available to all customers and employees, including upon entry.
  • We will ensure garnishes, glassware, and other traditional bar-top items are protected and not accessible to customers.
  • We will provide condiments only upon request, and in single use (non-reusable) portions. We will use disposable menus or digital menu solutions.
  • Pathways for patrons’ ingress and egress will be clear and unobstructed. Activities that enable close human contact, including but not limited to dancing, are discouraged.
  • All employees will pass a health screening before beginning their shift. Employees will wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the establishment, and between interactions with customers.
  • We will clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces regularly. We will also clean and disinfect each party’s area after every use.
  • We will place readily visible signage at the establishment to remind everyone of best hygiene and required social distancing practices.

YOUR PROMISE TO US

You agree to follow these minimum guidelines for Bar Customers by:

  • Following the social distancing and sanitary guidelines that have been put in place to protect you and our other customers and employees.
  • Following the direction of all employees who are monitoring social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
  • Self-screening and not entering the bar if you have any signs of COVID-19 including but not limited to a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or known close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you have any questions about the Texas Bar Promise, please ask for a manager who will be happy to assist you.

DOWNLOAD THE TEXAS BAR PROMISE 

DOWNLOAD THE TEXAS BAR PROMISE GUIDING DOCUMENTS 

DOWNLOAD THE TEXAS BAR PROMISE - Bexar County 


Background to Support the Reopening of Texas Bar Establishments

  • All Texas bars, taverns and nightclubs have been closed for 50 days due to government mandate which began on March 20, 2020. More than 75,000 jobs were immediately lost with a revenue impact of $630 million in gross revenue (based on 2019 annual revenue of $2.1 billion) impact to the State of Texas. This equates to a loss of more than $42 million in liquor tax revenue to the State of Texas.
     
  • The Texas Restaurant Association has agreed to support the opening of bars, and to provide guidance, support, resources and clarification related to The Bar Promise and Governor’s minimal standard health protocols, as outlined, to all bar owners across the state. The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) has been the voice of the restaurant industry throughout the crisis and now during recovery, and has maintained consistent communication with the Governor's office, local and state health authorities and industry. The TRA agrees to provide this same level of leadership to the 5,507 bar establishments in Texas that may begin to reopen.
     
  • Bar owners agree with policymakers and public health authorities that a phased-in approach is best. At the same time, regulatory consistency and predictability will be critical for bars operating across the State and consumers with whom we need to rebuild trust.
     
  • In partnership with leading bar owners and operators from across Texas, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) created the “Texas Bar Promise” to encourage bar employees and their customers to make critical health and safety commitments to each other.
     
  • The Promise was drafted with input from large chains, independent bars, data partners, other state associations, and food and alcohol safety/sanitation experts. It’s the compilation of evidence-based best practices that should be adopted consistently throughout Texas to enable bars to safely reopen their establishments.
     
  • Key elements, specific to the bar industry, are woven throughout the Promise document. These include assigning a health and safety manager at each bar to ensure social distancing protocols are met, keeping parties at least 6 feet of distance apart from other parties at all times facilitated by marked, physically designated individual party areas within the bar, and while customers are waiting to enter the establishment. Finally, no parties will have more than 6 people and all garnishes, glassware, and other traditional bar-top items will be protected and not accessible to customers.
     
  • It is important to note that for a bar to legally operate in the State of Texas today, operators must strictly adhere to the TABC Administrative Rules for alcohol seller/server safety. Clearly this will be maintained going forward with additional employee training on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette provided to all employees. Like health departments for restaurants, the TABC enforces the rules and guidelines of bar establishments’ operation, up to and including the authority to close an establishment in violation of those rules.
     
  • With the Texas Bar Promise in place across the State, bars, taverns and nightclubs can safely reopen their establishments to customers beginning May 15, 2020. Due to the smaller size and scale of most bars, the Phase 1 opening capacity should be set at 50% while maintaining the established social distancing requirements. Employees should be allowed to return to work before this date to allow for proper planning, training and to allow for full understanding of The Texas Bar Promise and how to implement and enforce.

For more information about the Texas Bar Promise, please contact TRA and visit www.txrestaurant.org/WelcomeBack


Supporting Guidance for Bar, Tavern, and Nightclub Reopening

Section 1 – Introduction 

Updated: June 3, 2020

What is the Texas Bar Promise?
The Texas Bar Promise is the product of collaboration between the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), bar establishments of all sizes, and health officials across the nation to develop guidelines that would enable bars, taverns, and nightclubs to safely reopen their dining spaces during the COVID-19 recovery. When customers see the Texas Bar Promise endorsement, they can be certain that the establishment is taking a leadership role in protecting their community. The Texas Bar Promise also empowers customers to learn what they can do to help keep everyone safe. With bars and customers working together, we can make their sector of the restaurant industry as vibrant as it was prior to the impact of COVID-19. For more information, please visit txrestaurant.org/WelcomeBack.

Does the Texas Bar Promise align with the Minimum Standard Health Protocols announced by Governor Abbott and issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services?
Just like the Texas Restaurant Promise, the Texas Bar Promise submitted by the TRA has been updated to align to the Governor’s Minimal Standard Health Protocols for Bars, as updated on June 3, 2020. It’s important to note that although the Texas Bar Promise is not legally enforceable, the Minimum Standard Health Protocols it reflects come directly from the State and therefore should be followed by all bar establishments and their customers. TABC may enforce the Minimum Standard Health Protocols by suspending licenses. The TRA will provide leadership to the bar industry and serve as the knowledge source and direct contact regarding any needed clarification or to serve as a link between the Governor's Office, TABC and our local health authorities.

Do the Minimum Standard Health Protocols limit how many customers I can serve at one time?
Yes. Effective June 3, 2020, bars and similar businesses may operate for in-person service at up to 50% of the total listed occupancy, not including employees and contractors. This limit only applies inside; outside, there is no occupancy limit, but the restaurant must comply with the social distancing requirements. 

Are there other requirements in the Minimum Standard Health Protocols that we should be aware of?
Yes. Bars should familiarize themselves with the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Bars and for bar Customers, which have several additional requirements including:

  • Do not allow customers to loiter at the bar or in other common areas.
  • If a buffet is offered, have employees serve food to customers.
  • Use contactless payment or have both parties sanitize their hands after the payment process.
  • Have employees and contractors maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other individuals and, when distancing is not feasible, rigorously practice other sanitation measures.
  • Follow specific guidelines about when employees with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 may return to work (see below).
  • Regularly and frequently clean restrooms, and document the cleanings.
  • Ensure social distancing is maintained at the bar between parties, staff, and bar items such as clean glassware and ice.
  • Clean and sanitize the bar daily.

    Please be sure to review the Minimum Standard Health Protocols here: gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

What do the Minimum Standard Health Protocols require for bars with video game equipment or other interactive amusements?

  • Assign at least one employee or contractor full time to disinfect the video games and other interactive amusements. Continuous disinfecting is needed to protect customers.
  • Disinfect all gaming equipment before and after customer use.
  • Provide equipment disinfecting products throughout facility for use on equipment.
  • Ensure only one player can play a game at a time.
  • Provide for at least 6 feet of separation between games.

Did the Governor’s new order change the regulatory waivers around alcohol and retail to-go sales?
No. Existing regulatory waivers allowing for food and alcohol sales continue to apply regardless of if a business can reopen under Governor Abbott’s executive order.

Who can participate in the Texas Bar Promise?
Any bar, tavern or nightclub that is reopening is encouraged to participate.

How long will this program last?
Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 recovery efforts. Overtime, these efforts should help customers regain trust and comfort visiting bars, taverns or nightclubs. Depending on any future modifications or changes to the Governor’s Executive Order pertaining to bars, taverns or nightclubs, the Texas Bar Promise will be updated to reflect these changes.

The Texas Bar Reopening Task Force
Working together with the Texas Restaurant Association, the following members make up the Texas Bar Recovery Task Force:

  • Chris Horne, KPG Hospitality
  • Brett Vance, Bearhug Hospitality/Handlebar/Redheaded Stepchild
  • Ben Cantu, KPG Hospitality
  • Troy Cramer, KPG Hospitality
  • Gary Foster, Little Woodrow’s
  • Bob Wilson, Little Woodrow’s
  • Emil Bragden, Funky Lime/Hospitality Concepts
  • Mark Beardon, SBBC Hospitality
  • Sean O’Brien, Fry Street Public House
  • Jason Carrier, Carmac Concepts
  • Shawn Bermudez, Boondocks/Stone’s Throw/Present Company
  • Kyle Berg, Mcintyres Heights/Downtown
  • Willie Stark, Bearhug Hospitality
  • Justin Knoch, 1922
  • Jessica Sanders, Drink Well Austin
  • Ben Fordham, Chameleon Group
  • Jeff Hammett, Chameleon Group
  • Jonathan Horowitz, Convive Hospitality
  • Randy Stokes, Barn Door & RD Speakeasy
  • Jeffrey Yarborough, Concept Nouveau
  • Ellis Winstanley, El Arroyo/Cozumel Empresas
  • John Gessner, Fox Rothschild LLP

    The Texas Bar Promise also incorporates content developed by the National Restaurant Association Reopening Guidance Task Force, which includes the following members:

  • Frank Yiannas, Food Policy & Response, FDA
  • Dr. Mark Moorman, Office of Food Safety, FDA
  • Patrick Guzzle, Idaho Department of Health
  • Larry Lynch, National Restaurant Association
  • Dr. David McSwane, Conference for Food Protection
  • Dr. Donald Schaffner, Rutgers University
  • Dr. Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University
  • Greg Cocchiarella, Industry Relations, Ecolab
     

Section 2 – Preparing to Reopen

What steps should bars take to prepare to safely reopen their dining spaces?

  • Bars should rehire and retrain staff to ensure:
    • Any employees certified in TABC alcohol server/seller safety have valid certifications.
    • All employees are trained on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette. 
    • Health & Safety managers will be trained and available for every shift.
  • All food and beverage items that are out of date should be discarded.
  • Bar should procure enough cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer/soap, and any other supplies needed to reopen safely.
  • Bars should thoroughly clean and disinfect the facility, especially the public facing areas and other spaces that have been closed.
  • Bars should remove all bar and tabletop items and ensure any garnishes or condiments are protected and out of customer reach.
  • Any self-service water stations currently located throughout the bar should be removed.
  • Physical markings, indicating 6 feet separation between 6 or fewer people should be established and clearly marked
  • Bars should modify their layout (inside and in all waiting areas outside) or use signage and other equipment to comply with social distancing requirements.

What resources are available to bars trying to rehire employees?

Please consider this Q&A, which summarizes a webinar with the Texas Workforce Commission: https://txrestaurant.org/news/faqs-restaurants-rehiring-employees. Please also visit the Texas Workforce Commission’s COVID-19 website: https://www.twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-employers.

Section 3 – Bar, Tavern, Nightclub Responsibilities & Options Once Reopened

How do bars participate in the Texas Bar Promise?
Bars must agree to the following commitments to protect their employees and customers.

  • We will continue to be a leader in safe sanitation, alcohol service, and food handling practices, with certified food handlers/managers when applicable. We will designate a health & safety manager to enforce social distancing guidelines and to train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
  • We will follow all of the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Bars adopted by the State, including:
    • Parties will maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other parties at all times, including while waiting for a seating space and while seated at the bar. We will facilitate this with tables or chairs to designate individual party areas and other signage.
    • Parties will have no more than 10 people. Service will only be provided to seated individuals.
    • A designated health & safety manager will enforce social distancing requirements during every shift.
    • Hand sanitizing stations will be available to all customers and employees, including upon entry.
    • We will ensure garnishes, glassware, and other traditional bar-top items are protected and not accessible to customers.
    • We will provide condiments only upon request, and in single use (non-reusable) portions. We will use disposable menus or digital menu solutions.
    • Pathways for patrons’ ingress and egress will be clear and unobstructed. Activities that enable close human contact, including but not limited to dancing, are discouraged.
    • All employees will pass a health screening before beginning their shift. Employees will wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the establishment, and between interactions with customers.
    • We will clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces regularly. We will also clean and disinfect each party’s area after every use.
    • We will place readily visible signage at the establishment to remind everyone of best hygiene and required social distancing practices.

What are some best practices bars can, but are not specifically required to follow, in order to comply with the commitments in the Texas Bar Promise?
Importantly, bars are already experts in safe alcohol and food handling and sanitation, as required by current Texas law, so many of their routine practices will go a long way towards fulfilling the commitments in the Texas Bar Promise. For example, continuing to follow the TABC Administrative Rules will help to combat the risks related to the spread of COVID-19.

Additional strategies will be appropriate for different bars at different times, but the following are ideas that can be implemented or adapted to fit an establishment’s needs:

  • Designate a single employee per shift—ideally with a clearly identifiable uniform or badge for customers to recognize—to oversee safety and sanitation measures.
  • Have an employee manage and control access to the restaurant, including opening doors to prevent customers from touching door handles.
  • Allow or require employees to wear gloves and/or masks and other protective equipment in keeping with public health guidelines related to preventing cross-contamination. 
  • When able, use physical barriers to separate tables, booths, and bar stools.
  • For tables that are unable to be moved, physically block off and/or remove seats so they are clearly not in use.
  • Use signage and/or floor markings to help customers comply with social distancing guidelines in common areas.
  • Encourage contactless payment options.
  • Leverage technology solutions like mobile ordering and text on arrival for seating. 

What kinds of questions should a bar ask its employees to perform the health screening?
Yes or no questions/statements like these can help strike the balance between obtaining the necessary health information and respecting privacy concerns. Employees and contractors should complete a simple pre-shift screening that includes answering questions like:

  • Do you have any of these new or worsening symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, feeling feverish, or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit?
  • Have you had close contact with a person who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19?
  • Are you currently waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test?
  • Have you traveled outside Texas over the last 14 days?
  • I understand my responsibility to not come to work if I have symptoms of COVID-19 or have recently come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • I understand my responsibility to comply with [the restaurant’s] health and sanitation standards.

What if an employee or contractor fails the health screening?
Here are the requirements from the Minimum Standard Health Protocols:

  • Do not allow employees or contractors with the new or worsening signs or symptoms listed above to return to work until:
    • In the case of an employee or contractor who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual meets all three of the following criteria: at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications); and the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared; or
    • In the case of an employee or contractor who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, the individual should be assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to work until the individual has completed the same three-step criteria listed above; or
    • If the employee or contractor has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to work before completing the above self-isolation period, the individual must obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis.
  • Do not allow an employee or contractor with known close contact to a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 to return to work until the end of the 14-day self-quarantine period from the last date of exposure (with an exception granted for healthcare workers and critical infrastructure workers).

What if I learn an employee or contractor has COVID-19?

First, make sure the employee or contractor is no longer coming to work and is self-quarantined.

Next, report the information to your local health department. The health department will ensure the correct data is collected and the person with COVID-19 is interviewed for contact tracing purposes. Follow the local health department’s instructions and contact tracing procedures.

If other employees or contractors had close contact with the person who has COVID-19, then they may not return to work until the end of the 14-day self-quarantine period from the last date of exposure. They should self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms.

Also, the establishment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

How should participating establishments communicate the commitments of the Texas Bar Promise?
It’s vital that bars communicate the commitments directly to their employees and monitor compliance. Bars should also take steps to communicate their enrollment in the Texas Bar Promise by posting the required notice at entrances, and if the establishment uses a website or social media, through those channels as well. Section 4 – Customer Responsibilities & Options

Why are customers included within the Texas Bar Promise?
Customers are included because we all have a responsibility to follow public health authority guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. By partnering together, we can keep everyone safe.

What commitments does the Texas Bar Promise ask customers to make to bars?
Customers must agree to follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Bar Customers adopted by the State by:

  • Following the social distancing and sanitary guidelines that have been put in place to protect you and our other customers and employees.
  • Following the direction of all employees who are monitoring social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
  • Self-screening and not entering the bar if you have any signs of COVID-19 including but not limited to a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or known close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you have any questions about the Texas Bar Promise, please ask for a manager who will be happy to assist you.

Additionally:

  • Wash or disinfect hands upon entering a reception and after any interaction with employees, contractors, other attendees, or items in the bar or similar establishment.
  • Individuals aged 65 or older are at a higher risk of COVID-19. To the extent possible, avoid being within 6 feet with individuals aged 65 and older. Individuals aged 65 and older should stay at home as much as possible.
  • Consistent with the actions taken by many individuals across the state, consider wearing cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth when not at the table, or when within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of the individual’s household. If available, individuals should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.
  • Because of the social interaction that occurs at bars or similar establishments, strict adherence to these protocols is important. A person infected with COVID-19 may not know it, and may pass it to someone else unwittingly.
  • Carry hand sanitizer, and use it regularly while at the bar or similar establishment, especially after contact with individuals outside the household.

What can bars do to help customers meet these obligations?
Establishments are encouraged to maximize the use of contactless delivery options and advertise those options to potential customers. Publicizing information about the Texas Bar Promise should also increase customer compliance. Bars owners should continue to leverage the expertise of the Texas Restaurant Association, and if needed the local authorities for customer talking points and support when it comes to enforcement of customer commitments.
 

Section 5 – Additional Resources & Next Steps

What resources and support are available related to the Texas Bar Promise?
TRA will share information about the Texas Bar Promise with elected officials, the public, allied groups, and the media to assure the public and policymakers that Texas bars stand ready to reopen safely in keeping with these commitments. TRA will also be available to help answer questions and provide support to bars, taverns, and nightclubs as they reopen their dining spaces.

Many bars, taverns, and night clubs opt to require their employees to have completed the TABC approved Alcohol Seller/Server Safety Certification, a safe harbor protecting their licenses should an employee inadvertently violate TABC Administrative Rules. Operators will ensure any employees who are TABC Certified have a valid certification. Expansion of the number of TABC Certified employees is at the discretion of the operator. Also, the National Restaurant Association has made its ServSafe Food Handler Program available to all restaurants and bars free of charge through May 31. These trainings can be found at:

Other Links: