LUBBOCK, Texas — After eight consecutive days of having over 15 percent COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, the governor ordered businesses in Lubbock to change their occupancy rates.
According to the order, businesses open at 75 percent will now operate at 50 percent. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) will require those classified as bars to close.
According to Lubbock city government, the restrictions will remain in place until Lubbock has reached seven consecutive days, where the percentage of confirmed COVID-19 patients in regional hospitals remain at or below 15 percent.
Chris Berry, a managing partner at River Smith’s and President of the Lubbock Restaurant’s Association, said when restaurants increased to 75 percent capacity, they saw more consumer confidence rise. He said any step back is a drastic change for the industry.
“At least when dining rooms shut down several months ago, many of us had PPP funds to fall back on for the 4 to 6-week period to at least use as leverage to get through that time period,” said Berry. “It doesn’t appear that any help or any resources like that are going to be out there for us for the foreseeable future. So, it’s not going to be good.”
Berry said he and other restaurants in the area have been working hard to sanitize and create a safe space for consumers and that people should continue to have confidence in eating out.
“We’re just asking them to spend what they did before, whether it was once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, whatever it was, in your dining out budget,” he said, “We ask that you continue to do so. Without it, we are not going to survive.”
Eddie McBride, President of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, said his organization has been handing out a pack of 100 masks to businesses in the area to help encourage mask-wearing.
Judge Curtis Parish said the health care industry is one of the three things that help make up the Lubbock economy, and he said it’s being threatened.
“[A]ll of us, we all need to work together to make sure that we support our health care industry, our health care workers are calculated, or a loved one is, and they’re being forced to be isolated. We need help, and they need help,” he said, “And we do that by keeping ourselves safe.”
Judge Parish said other cities like El Paso have reached hospitalization rates approaching 40 percent, and it could happen in Lubbock if action is not taken.
“For all of us, it’s doing those really simple practical things, wear your mask when you’re in public, maintain safe social distancing,” he said.