New occupancy limits for local businesses due to COVID-19
Reposted from the City of Fort Worth website, March 16, 2020.
Across the entire country, cities are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Like every major city, the City of Fort Worth is acting to limit the community spread of COVID-19 while also listening closely to local businesses who are attempting to adapt during this difficult time.
The Fort Worth community has adhered to the recently implemented social distancing measures, and we, thankfully, have not yet had community spread of COVID-19 in Fort Worth. However, there continues to be community spread of COVID-19 throughout North Texas and the rest of the country, and the City of Fort Worth is taking additional steps to minimize the risk to our community.
Starting at midnight tonight, the City of Fort Worth is enacting a mandatory reduction in the occupancy limits of local businesses, reducing current 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.
Previously, the City of Fort Worth issued a social distancing protocol for all public events and gatherings limiting participants to 250 – we are reducing this to 125 or less.
These new social distancing protocols do not apply to private businesses with day to day business operations with limited public assembly. If you are not included in the list of specific places of business then you are likely considered a private business. We encourage all places of business to follow CDC and OSHA guidelines.
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 example, if a business is allowed 160 individuals, then 80 individuals would be the maximum capacity, including their employees. However, if a business may have 600 individuals, they would now be limited to no more than 125 individuals to comply with the Emergency Declaration. Businesses can refer to their Certificate of Occupancy to determine their current occupancy limits.
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.