Latest Update: July 29, 2021
The Texas Restaurant Association is committed to providing our members with resources and opportunities to manage the COVID-19 pandemic as best we can. We are your voice and stand together with you in these challenging times. We have created this page to serve as your comprehensive guide to stay up to date on the latest coronavirus information and find resources to protect your business. This page will continue to be updated as more information is made available by the CDC, other health organizations, and our lawmakers.
About twice a week we send out a recap email outlining the work done that day, new resources, answers to common questions, and action alerts for advocacy. Not receiving that email? Sign up in the sidebar on the right.
The Texas Restaurant Pandemic Directory page has been launched to provide Texas restaurants access to discounted products and services for restaurant businesses during this crisis. For a limited time, the TRA is offering access to any company wanting to advertise its specials for restaurants and industry employees.
Also, TRA has a mobile app for use by TRA members and allied members. This is another way to make sure you’re getting the most timely information and updates.
Safe Operations | Vaccine Information & Availability | Relief & Aid | Advocacy During the Pandemic | To-Go & Delivery | Employee Resources | Operations & Legal Issues | Resources in Spanish & Other Languages
On April 27, 2020, Governor Abbott issued an executive order that allowed restaurants to reopen their dining spaces under statewide protocols that mirrored the best practices TRA published through the Texas Restaurant Promise. The Texas Restaurant Promise is the product of weeks of collaboration between TRA, restaurants of all sizes, and health experts across the nation to develop guidelines that would enable restaurants to safely operate during the COVID-19 recovery. The Texas Restaurant Promise has been updated throughout the pandemic to align with federal and state guidance and best practices, many of which can be found here.
- Texas Restaurant Promise
- CDC Guidance
- For businesses and employers (addresses preventing COVID spread, employees who have or are suspected of having COVID, cleaning protocols, etc.)
- For fully vaccinated people
- To find the level of COVID transmission in your county
- OSHA Guidance on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace
FDA Best Practices for Restaurants and other Food Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- State of Texas Rules & Guidance
- Governor Abbott’s current executive order prevents all COVID-19 business restrictions across the entire state. It also prohibits:
- Government-ordered mask mandates (although businesses can enforce their own mask requirements),
- Government-ordered vaccine mandates, and
- Private entities that receive ANY public funds from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from a consumer. However, the language does not prohibit private entities from requiring vaccines of their employees.
- COVID hospitalization numbers across the state
- Guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals
- COVID information from TABC
- Governor Abbott’s current executive order prevents all COVID-19 business restrictions across the entire state. It also prohibits:
- Free ServSafe training videos on topics like conflict de-escalation and COVID-19 precautions
Vaccine Information & Availability
From the CDC - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html
From the State of Texas - https://dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine/
Does the vaccine cost money?
Vaccines are free. While some sites require you to show your insurance card (if you have one), no one will have to pay for the vaccine.
Can I pay my employees for the time they need to get vaccinated?
Yes! Congress recently extended COVID-19 paid sick leave to employers covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The law applies to employers with less than 500 employees. COVID-19 paid sick leave can receive a federal payroll tax credit. For more information about the tax credit, visit this IRS’ website. And read more from our partners Monty & Ramirez here.
Can I require my employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, but if you do, you must comply with certain accommodation requests. Our TRA Law Center Partner, Monty & Ramirez, has shared this information.
Immigration status and COVID-19 vaccine availability
Thank you to our TRA Law Center Partner, Monty & Ramirez, for providing this content:
While we are cognizant that employers seek to abide by our U.S. immigration laws, it is a reality that some of our organizations and businesses may unknowingly employ individuals without legal status due to the prevalence of fraudulent documentation. As such, we believe it is important to advocate for vaccines for all, regardless of immigration status.
Similarly, DHS and federal government partners support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for all undocumented and documented immigrants. DHS has committed to ensuring every individual in need of a COVID-19 vaccine will receive one regardless of their immigration status. Unlike former President Trump – Biden is working to ensure no immigrant will be subject to discrimination due to their immigration status. The Biden administration has also stated that no data regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations can be shared with ICE to encourage vaccinations regardless of immigration status.
Per DHS statement, “It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine. DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.”
To this end, vaccine providers should not be asking about immigration status. Asking such questions would deter individuals, especially those already in vulnerable populations, from seeking vaccinations, which would contradict the vaccination efforts made thus far.
Estatus migratorio y disponibilidad de vacunas contra el COVID-19
Estamos conscientes de que los empleadores buscan cumplir con nuestras leyes de inmigración, es una realidad que algunas de nuestras organizaciones y empresas pueden emplear sin saberlo a individuos sin estatus legal debido a la prevalencia de la documentación fraudulenta. Como tal, creemos que es importante proponer vacunas para todos, independientemente del estatus migratorio.
Del mismo modo, DHS y los socios del gobierno federal apoyan el acceso igualitario a las vacunas COVID-19 y a los sitios de distribución de vacunas para todos los inmigrantes indocumentados y documentados. DHS se ha comprometido a garantizar que todas las personas que necesiten una vacuna contra el COVID-19 reciban una independientemente de su estatus migratorio. A diferencia del expresidente Trump, Biden está trabajando para asegurar que ningún inmigrante será objeto de discriminación debido a su estatus migratorio. La administración del presidente Biden también ha indicado que no se pueden compartir datos sobre las vacunas contra el COVID-19 con ICE para fomentar las vacunas independientemente del estatus migratorio.
Según la declaración del DHS, "Es un imperativo moral y de salud pública garantizar que todas las personas que residen en los Estados Unidos tengan acceso a la vacuna. DHS alienta a todas las personas, independientemente del estatus migratorio, a recibir la vacuna contra el COVID-19 una vez elegible bajo las directrices de distribución local."
Con este fin, los proveedores de vacunas no deberían preguntar sobre el estatus migratorio. Hacer tales preguntas disuadiría a las personas, especialmente a las que ya se encuentran en poblaciones vulnerables, de buscar vacunas, lo que contradeciría los esfuerzos de vacunación realizados hasta ahora.
Relief & Aid
TRA has partnered with the National Restaurant Association as well as federal, state, and local officials to create many different forms of restaurant relief. Although we have accomplished extraordinary things together, we recognize that the road to recovery for many restaurants is still long and uncertain. Therefore, we will continue to explore every avenue to continue to help restaurants recover. Here are some of the relief and aid initiatives we’ve championed to date, as well as opportunities to advocate for additional relief.
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)
- Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
- Additional federal advocacy resources
- Donate to the TX Restaurant Relief Fund - Learn more about the TRA’s relief fund helping independently-owned restaurants
- Comfort Food Care Package Program (CFCP) - Consumers purchase a Comfort Food Care Package from a restaurant to be donated as meals for at-risk youth and families in communities across Texas as the state responds to COVID-19
- SBA COVID-19 Relief Options for Businesses
- Main Street Lending Program - Updated to better target support to smaller businesses
- SBA Disaster Recovery Assistance (recorded webinar) - TRA and SBA recorded webinar on disaster recovery assistance
- Southern Smoke’s Hospitality Emergency Relief - Provides funding to individuals in the food and beverage industry who are in crisis
- CORE – Children of Restaurant Employees - Provides support to food and beverage service employees, with children, who have been medically diagnosed with COVID-19. You may also be eligible if a family member is diagnosed.
- James Beard Relief Fund - Currently raising money to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.
Advocacy During the Pandemic
Working with our lawmakers, regulators, members, and allied partners, the Texas Restaurant Association has created critical lifelines to support the industry’s recovery from the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. Together, we’ve:
- Passed 6 of our 8 priority bills and blocked every bill we opposed during Texas’ 87th Regular Legislative Session.
- Assembled a task force of key chain and independent restaurant and bar owners and created the Texas Restaurant Promise and the Texas Bar Promise, which were both used to develop the Governor’s minimum standard health protocols that enabled businesses to reopen under one set of statewide rules.
- Partnered with Congressman Roy (R-TX) and Congressman Phillips (D-MN) to draft and pass the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, extending a critical lifeline to all PPP recipients.
- Secured the ability for restaurants to sell alcohol to-go, creating a critical new revenue stream to sustain restaurants with closed dining rooms. Successfully lobbied alcohol stakeholders and the governor’s office to expand the waiver to include drinks mixed onsite.
- Partnered with TABC to reopen restaurants that were misclassified under the restaurant COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Secured the ability for restaurants to sell bulk retail items—opening the supply chain and ensuring Texans had access to food while creating a new revenue stream for restaurants.
- Secured the ability for restaurants to sell their pre-made meals in grocery stores, again, opening a new revenue channel.
- Partnered with the state to create CARE packages—meals to feed those most in need. Also fed over 100,000+ first responders through special initiatives with BCBSTX, Exxon Mobil, Chipotle, Whataburger, and independent restaurants across Texas.
- Partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission, Dallas College, and A Closer Look to build and launch the first training, certification, and validation program for restaurants operating in the COVID-19 world—The Texas Restaurant Promise Certification. Provided this program for free to hundreds of restaurants.
- Partnered with TABC to expedite parklet permits and to change two-year fees into one-year fees, helping with cash flow.
- Worked with local officials to keep restaurants open and encourage dining out safely.
With special sessions of the Texas Legislature already planned for this summer and fall, now is the time to build on our progress. We’re still working hard on our two outstanding priority items for statewide advocacy—financial relief from the pandemic and regulatory consistency to ensure restaurants don’t face a patchwork of different rules on leave, benefits, and scheduling practices. Visit www.txrestaurant.org/advocacy to learn more and join your voice with ours!
To Go & Delivery
- TABC Regulations for Alcohol To-Go
- TRA has negotiated special deals with ChowNow, DoorDash, Favor, and UberEats for its members. Visit https://txrestaurant.org/why-join/member-benefits to learn more.
- TRA webinar with ChowNow – Maximize Your Online Ordering, June 2021
- TRA webinar – Off-Premises Domination
- Vinder Launches Restaurant-Fueled Farmers Market
- Kitchen United: Takeout & Delivery Best Practices (Marketing)
- Kitchen United: Takeout and Delivery Best Practices for Getting Started and Setting Up
- Heard offers recovery and sobriety support, mental health support, and other health and wellness programs to men and women in the food and beverage industry.
- Employee rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Information and resources for our immigrant employees - https://www.informedimmigrant.com/ or https://www.inmigranteinformado.com/
- National’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
- Another Round Another Rally
- James Beard Foundation
- LEE Initiative
Operations & Legal Issues
- National Restaurant Association Restaurant Law Center
- Amicus brief that TRA filed with the Restaurant Law Center in a business interruption lawsuit filed in Texas
- Talk to Your Landlord About COVID-19 - Guidance on how to start a conversation about what you can and can’t do for your lease.
- Legal issues overview from JacksonLewis
- Skadden article on COVID and force majeure clauses
Resources in Spanish & Other Languages
- CDC guía para empresas
- OSHA Protección de los trabajadores: orientación para mitigar y prevenir la propagación de COVID-19 en el lugar de trabajo
- CDC resources in language other than English
- TRA Webinar – Los fundamentos del liderazgo en restaurantes
Originally Published: February 28, 2020.