Fort Worth enacts mandatory reduction in occupancy limits for restaurants, bars, other areas

March 16,2020


See full Fort Worth Business Press article here.

Fort Worth is enacting a mandatory reduction in the occupancy limits for local businesses.

The new rules call for local businesses to reduce allowed occupancy by 50%, or no more than 125 individuals, whichever is less. These occupancy limits apply to the following locations: restaurants, bars, event centers, gyms, hotel restaurants, retail stores, theatres, convenience stores, public buildings, plazas, churches and shopping malls.

“We are currently excluding grocery stores from these mandatory reductions, and we are asking our grocery businesses to implement social distancing with customers to the greatest extent possible,” according to a City of Fort Worth news release.

Previously, the City of Fort Worth issued a social distancing protocol for all public events and gatherings limiting participants to 250, but the new rules reduce that to 125 or less.

For example, if a business is allowed 160 individuals, then 80 individuals would be the maximum capacity, including their employees, according to the news release. If a business may have 600 individuals, they would now be limited to no more than 125 individuals to comply with the Emergency Declaration, according to the release.

"This isn't to be draconian," Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in a press conference announcing the new guidelines on Monday.

"This is for your safety. We know this is spread by people being in contact and out and about," she added.

Businesses can refer to their Certificate of Occupancy to determine their current occupancy limits.

The new social distancing protocols do not apply to private businesses with day to day business operations with limited public assembly.

Tarrant County currently has five confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The new rules were announced in a Facebook Live event at:

https://www.facebook.com/CityOfFortWorth/

The City of Fort Worth encouraged all places of business to follow CDC and OSHA guidelines found at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf.

More from the city’s news release:

We realize these decisions are painful for business operations, but we believe this solution will allow for small businesses to remain open in light of a rapidly changing situation. However, if our bars and restaurants do not comply or COVID-19 is not contained, further action may be required to meet public health requirements.

For businesses like restaurants and bars, the following are specific recommendations that can be enacted:

• Strongly encourage take-out and curbside pick-up

• Remove every other chair at the bar to implement an adequate distance

• If continuing sit-down dining, seat the customers at every other table in a checkerboard pattern

• Have your staff keep count of the customers at each table to ensure an accurate count

The City of Fort Worth’s Fire Department stands ready to enforce occupancy limits, and we are asking businesses to be diligent in their enforcement and mindful of the public health implications. Once again, we urge the public to avoid public places when possible and to stay home, limiting public contact. We will continue to work on resources to support our community during this unprecedented time.

On Monday, Dallas officials prohibited community gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered gyms and theaters shut for seven days.