Texas Restaurant Promise

THE TEXAS RESTAURANT PROMISE

Led by the Texas Restaurant Association, a task force made up of chain and independent restaurants, and health officials provided Governor Abbott and his team with a recommended set of guidelines to support the reopening of Texas restaurants. The guidelines below have been updated and tie directly to the Minimum Standard Health Protocols enacted by Governor Abbott, effective May 1st, 2020. With restaurants and their customers working together to follow the guidelines below, we can begin to reopen Texas restaurants and partner to keep employees and customers safe.

Download the Promise - English

Download the Promise Supporting Documents - English

Download the Promise - English (Face Coverings Required)

Note: Updated translations in Spanish and Vietnamese are in the works!

The restaurant industry has an outstanding track record of protecting our employees and guests. To ensure everyone’s safety as we welcome you back into our dining rooms, 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 practices with all team members certified in safe food handling and a certified manager on every shift. Also, all employees will be trained on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.

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

  • Parties will maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other parties at all times, except when seated at tables or booths with partitions. No tables will have more than 10 people.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available to all customers and employees, including upon entry.
  • We will not leave condiments, silverware, flatware, glassware, or other traditional tabletop items on an unoccupied table.
  • We will provide condiments only upon request, and in single use (non-reusable) portions.
  • We will use disposable menus that are new for each patron.
  • All employees and contractors must pass a health screening before coming into the restaurant.
  • Employees and contractors will wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the restaurant, and between interactions with customers.
  • We will clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces regularly. We will also clean and disinfect each dining area after every use.
  • We will post the Texas Restaurant Promise at our entrances and display readily visible signage to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.

YOUR PROMISE TO US

You agree to follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Restaurant Customers adopted by the State by:

  • Following the face covering, social distancing, and sanitary guidelines that have been put in place to protect all of our guests and employees.
  • Self-screening before entering the restaurant for any signs of COVID-19 including a fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, and known close contact with someone who has COVID19. 
  • Using our contactless delivery options if you cannot enter the restaurant or are otherwise concerned about dining in our restaurant.

 

THE TEXAS RESTAURANT PROMISE

Supporting Guidance

Section 1 – Introductions

What is the Texas Restaurant Promise?

The Texas Restaurant Promise is the product of weeks of collaboration between the Texas Restaurant Association, restaurants of all sizes, and health officials across the nation to develop guidelines that would enable restaurants to safely reopen their dining spaces during the COVID-19 recovery. When customers see the Texas Restaurant Promise endorsement, they can be certain that the restaurant is taking a leadership role in protecting their community. The Texas Restaurant Promise also empowers customers to learn what they can do to help keep everyone safe. With restaurants and customers working together, we can make the restaurant industry as vibrant as it was prior to the impact of COVID-19.

Does the Texas Restaurant Promise align with the Minimum Standard Health Protocols announced by Governor Abbott and issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services?

Yes. TRA was grateful to see that the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Restaurants mirror the guidelines in the Texas Restaurant Promise. Further, we have updated the specific language in the Texas Restaurant Promise to ensure it aligns with the Minimum Standard Health Protocols.

Although the Texas Restaurant Promise is not legally enforceable, the Minimum Standard Health Protocols it reflects came directly from the State and therefore should be followed by all restaurants and customers. TABC may enforce the Minimum Standard Health Protocols by suspending licenses.

Does the Texas Restaurant Promise align with the order that Bexar County and others are adopting to require businesses to post a health and safety policy that requires people to wear a face covering when they’re on the business’ property?
Yes. The good news is that restaurants following the Texas Restaurant Promise have been posting a health and safety policy all along because that’s exactly what the Texas Restaurant Promise is! As leaders in customer service and safety, restaurants have been and continue to lead on this issue. If your restaurant is in Bexar County or one of the other regions that has adopted a face covering requirement, then please make sure you post the Texas Restaurant Promise we’ve created specifically for these regions.

Do the Minimum Standard Health Protocols limit how many customers I can serve at one time?
Yes.
Pre-June 12, 2020: The occupancy limit is 50%, 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.

Beginning on June 12, 2020: The occupancy limit increases to 75% for restaurants that have less than 51% of their gross sales from alcoholic beverages. Restaurants that exceed this threshold for alcoholic beverage sales are considered bars and cannot exceed 50%. For more information about this category, please review the Texas Bar Promise

Are there other requirements in the Minimum Standard Health Protocols that we should be aware of?

Yes. Restaurants should familiarize themselves with the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Restaurants and for Restaurant Customers, which have several additional requirements including:

  • 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 restaurants daily.

Please be sure to review the Minimum Standard Health Protocols here.

What do the Minimum Standard Health Protocols require for restaurants 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.

What do the Minimum Standard Health Protocols require for restaurants offering valet parking services?
 

  • Take the temperature of each employee or contractor at the beginning of each shift.
  • Utilize the following personal protective equipment for employees and contractors:
    • Cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth, or, if available, non-medical grade face masks over the nose and mouth.
    • Single-use disposable gloves that are changed between every interaction with customers and/or vehicles.
  • Vehicle door handles, ignition switch, steering wheel, and shift knob should be wiped with disinfectant as the valet employee enters and exits the vehicle.
  • All workstations and work equipment should be cleaned at the start and the end of each shift, as well as every hour during the shift. These workstations should include the valet podium, key storage locker, tablets, fee computers, receipt printers, etc.
  • Valet parking operators should employ contactless payment whenever possible.
  • For high volume operations, appropriate physical distancing indicators should be established to ensure customers maintain at least six feet of distance as they wait for their vehicle.
  • Where possible, alternative parking options should be provided for customers who are uncomfortable with valet parking.
  • Wash or disinfect hands upon entering a business and after any interaction with employees, other customers, or items in the business.
  • Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees, contractors, and customers.
  • Have employees and contractors maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other individuals.

Did the Governor’s new order change the regulatory waivers around alcohol and retail to-go sales?

No. Existing regulatory waivers allowing for food, alcohol, and retail to-go sales continue to apply regardless of if a business can reopen its dining space under Governor Abbott’s executive order.

Who can participate in the Texas Restaurant Promise?

Any foodservice establishment that is reopening its dining spaces 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 dining in restaurants.

The Texas Restaurant Recovery Task Force

Working together with the Texas Restaurant Association, the following are the members of the Recovery Task Force:

  • Tommy Van Wolfe, Raising Cane’s
  • Lisa Perini, Perini Ranch
  • Aaron White, Brinker
  • Mark Maguire, Maguire’s Restaurant
  • Susan Connelly, Darden
  • Ellis Winstanley, El Arroyo
  • Cameron James, LaTrelle’s Mgmt
  • Mike Rizzo, Pappas
  • Dawn Lafreeda, Denny’s Franchisee
  • Melissa Doolin-Koehne, Black Box Intelligence

The Texas Restaurant 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
  • Dr. David McSwane, Conference for Food Protection
  • Dr. Donald Schaffner, Rutgers University
  • Dr. Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University
  • Patrick Guzzle, Idaho Department of Health
  • Greg Cocchiarella, Industry Relations, Ecolab
  • Larry Lynch, National Restaurant Association

Section 2 – Preparing to Reopen

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

  • Restaurants should rehire and retrain staff to ensure:
    • All employees are certified in safe food handling as required by Texas law.
    • All employees are trained on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
    • Certified managers will be available for every shift.
  • All food items that are out of date should be discarded.
  • Restaurants should procure enough cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer/soap, and any other supplies needed to reopen safely.
  • Restaurants should thoroughly clean and disinfect the facility, especially the dining areas and other spaces that have been closed.
  • Restaurants should modify their layout or use signage and other equipment to comply with social distancing requirements.

How can I encourage employees to return, particularly when they’re making more money on unemployment?

Please consider this guidance from the Texas Workforce Commission:

When making an offer to return to work, it is best to do so in writing. Employers may wish to explain to employees in detail exactly how it has provided for a safe work environment. That means covering the requirements prescribed by OSHA, the CDC, the Governor, and the President (for example, social distancing, PPE, sanitization efforts, etc). If the employer communicates that information to the employee, and the employee declines an offer to return to work, there is little the employer can do to make that employee come back, since it cannot force employees to return.

That being said, if the employee files for unemployment instead of returning, it may be deemed as a resignation without work-connected good cause, so long as the employer can prove that it did indeed provide a safe environment in which to work. Each case is reviewed individually, so we cannot make an official pronouncement as to how an unemployment claim would be analyzed (for example, whether the employee quit due to refusal to work, or whether the employee had already been laid off by the time the offer to return was made).

Regardless, if the employee had already filed for unemployment benefits at the time the offer to return to work was made, the employee/claimant may be disqualified from benefits for rejecting an offer of suitable work. Unemployment is for those who do not have suitable work available to them. Employers may report these rejections in their responses to Notices of Application of Unemployment, or anytime during the appeals process. However, they may also report these situations to TWC’s Fraud Department, via phone at (800) 252-3642 or email at twc.fraud@twc.state.tx.us. Employers would do well to ensure that offers of work include essential, basic information one would need to know before accepting an offer of work (location, rate of pay, job duties, and schedule), and offers should be made in writing, preferably in two formats (email, text, mail, voicemail). The point of that is to prepare for the possibility that the employee/claimant may deny ever receiving the offer. That argument loses credibility when the employer can show that the offer was made in multiple formats. Any written offers and rejections can be attached to the email employers send to the fraud department for investigation.

For more information about COVID-19 and unemployment benefits, including the Texas Workforce Commission’s Shared Work Program, visit this page.

Section 3 – Restaurant Responsibilities and Options Once Reopened

How do restaurants participate in the Texas Restaurant Promise?

Restaurants must agree to the following commitments to protect their employees and customers.

  • We will continue to be a leader in safe sanitation practices with all team members certified in safe food handling and a certified manager on every shift. Also, all employees will be trained on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
  • We will follow all of the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Restaurants adopted by the State, including:
    • Parties will maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other parties at all times, except when seated at tables or booths with partitions. No tables will have more than 10 people.
    • Hand sanitizing stations will be available to all customers and employees, including upon entry.
    • We will not leave condiments, silverware, flatware, glassware, or other traditional tabletop items on an unoccupied table.
    • We will provide condiments only upon request, and in single use (non-reusable) portions.
    • We will use disposable menus that are new for each patron.
    • All employees and contractors must pass a health screening before coming into the restaurant.
    • Employees and contractors will wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the restaurant, and between interactions with customers.
    • We will clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces regularly. We will also clean and disinfect each dining area after every use.
    • We will post the Texas Restaurant Promise at our entrances and display readily visible signage to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.

What are some best practices restaurants can, but are not specifically required to follow, in order to comply with the commitments in the Texas Restaurant Promise?

Importantly, restaurants are already experts in safe food handling and sanitation, and so many of their routine practices will go a long way towards fulfilling the commitments in the Texas Restaurant Promise. For example, continuing to follow the FDA’s Food Code will form a base to combat the risks related to the spread of COVID-19.

Additional strategies will be appropriate for different restaurants at different times, but the following are ideas that can be implemented or adapted to fit a restaurant’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 patrons from touching door handles.
  • Allow or require certain 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.
  • Temporarily close or have employees manage topping bars, drink stations, and other communal serving areas.

What kinds of questions should a restaurant ask its employees to perform the health screening before each shift?

Yes or no questions/statements like these can help strike the balance between obtaining the necessary health information and respecting privacy concerns. Employees 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 fails the health screening?

Here are the requirements from the Minimum Standard Health Protocols:

  • Do not allow employees with the new or worsening signs or symptoms listed above to return to work until:
    • In the case of an employee who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to work when all three of the following criteria are met: at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications); and the individual has improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; or
    • In the case of an employee who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, the individual is 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 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 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).

How should participating restaurants communicate the commitments of the Texas Restaurant Promise?

It’s vital that restaurants communicate the commitments directly to their employees and monitor compliance. Restaurants should also take steps to communicate their enrollment in the Texas Restaurant Promise by posting the required notice at entrances, and if the restaurant uses a website or social media, through those channels as well.

 

Section 4 – Customer Responsibilities & Options

Why are customers included within the Texas Restaurant 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 Restaurant Promise ask customers to make to restaurants?

Customers must agree to follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Restaurant 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.
  • Self-screening before entering the restaurant for 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 cannot enter the restaurant or are otherwise concerned about contracting COVID-19, please use our contactless delivery options.
  • If you have any questions about the Texas Restaurant Promise, please ask for a manager who will be happy to assist you.

What can restaurants do to help customers meet these obligations?

Restaurants are encouraged to maximize the use of contactless delivery options and advertise those options to potential customers. Publicizing information about the Texas Restaurant Promise should also increase customer compliance.

Section 4 – Additional Resources & Next Steps

 

What resources and support are available related to the Texas Restaurant Promise?

TRA will share information about the Texas Restaurant Promise with elected officials, the public, allied groups, and the media to assure the public and policymakers that Texas restaurants stand ready to reopen safely in keeping with these commitments. TRA will also be available to help answer questions and provide support to restaurants as they reopen their dining spaces.

Also, the National Restaurant Association has made its ServSafe Food Handler Program available to all restaurants free of charge through May 30. These trainings can be found at:

Download the Promise