Bars and restaurants in Houston brace for next round of closures

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- Some bar owners are devastated by the governor's order, but restaurant owners are adjusting to the new change.

Eric Morse is getting his restaurant ready for what's next to come. He said he has made safety improvements, but admits he can only do so much.

"The only other thing we can do is to close our restaurant until this is over, and that is a plan c," Morse said.

But he's determined not to reach that point.

On Monday, Morse will have to make another change because Gov. Greg Abbott is reducing restaurant capacity to 50 percent.

"Anxiety," Morse said. "That's really what it comes down to."

It's not only restaurants that are seeing changes, but bars are being shut down.

Brenda Bernascone, an employee at Sunrise Sports Bar in Sugar Land, couldn't comprehend the news.

"We had no notice, and I don't understand it because we've been following every single requirement," Bernascone said.

The bar reopened a month ago after being shut down for two months.

Bernascone worries what this new shut down will do to bars.

"It's going to be hard," Bernascone said. "It's going to be real hard. I'm just going to hope this gets over really, really quick, and we can open back up and get back to business as normal."

The governor said the industry is tied to rising coronavirus cases in Texas.

The Texas Restaurant Association believes 30 percent of restaurants could close by the end of the year.

"More than 70 percent, in a recent survey, said they won't even break even this year," Texas Restaurant Association president, Dr. Emily Williams Knight said.

To help restaurants, experts encouraged people to buy gift cards, order take out directly from the restaurant and share to social media.

Despite the setback, experts believe this is the right move.

"If you were to go back to zero percent, it would definitely be catastrophic," Knight said. "We don't want to get there. That's why I think if we go to 50 percent for restaurants, that is the right decision."

Morse said he's glad dine-in customers are welcome, and he hopes reopening can resume soon.

"Ultimately, my selfish reasons of wanting my business to do well are superseded by the safety and health of my friends, family and neighbors who come into the restaurant," Morse said.

You can't go to a bar, but that doesn't mean they have to close completely.

The governor's order allows for to-go orders, including alcohol.

To help bars and restaurants, the Texas Restaurant Association said it's working with the state to allow expanded alcohol to-go sales, which will hopefully help owners who don't know when they'll be allowed to reopen.

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