On Friday evening, the 8731 Katy Freeway location of Federal American Grill in Houston, Texas, opened up its doors for in-dining room customers despite an ongoing order from state and local lawmakers to remain closed except for take-out.
Owner Matt Brice told the Houston Chronicle that the restaurant has “complied 100 percent until now.”
“What I don’t like is that the government is picking and choosing which businesses win or lose. They are sinking the economy,” Brice said. “We have to stand our ground and get people back to work.”
Brice also told the Chronicle that precautions were being taken in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as “one death is too many.”
The restaurant is operating at only 30% seating capacity, according to the owner, and staff are required to wear face masks and gloves, as well as have their temperature checked prior to working. Additionally, customers are afforded the opportunity to pay with Venmo and PayPal, reports the news outlet.
Brice claims that he’s had support from other restaurant owners, and that he is “doing this for all the small businesses.”
The customers who showed up Friday night were apparently satisfied. The Chronicle quotes, among others, a woman named Adrienne, who said that she and the person she came with “felt safe and everything was fabulous.”
The Daily Wire reached out to Brice for comment, but we have not heard back as of publication.
On March 31, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order that went into effect on April 2, which said that Texans “shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts,” except for takeout and drive-through options.
In accordance with guidance from DSHS Commissioner Dr. Hellerstedt, and to achieve the goals established by the President to reduce the spread of COVID-19, every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household…
In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts … provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
According to the text, “failure to comply with any executive order issued during the COVID-19 disaster is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both fine and confinement.”
Additionally, Brice could be in violation of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, which states that restaurants must “serve food by take out, delivery, or drive-through.”
Despite the restrictions currently in place, Governor Abbott has said that he will soon announce a plan to begin the reopening of the state’s economy – though it will depend on the COVID-19 case numbers in various counties.
During a radio interview on Wednesday, Abbott stated:
This is going to be happening in the first couple of days in May, where you’re going to be able to go back and go dining under safe standards, you’re going to be able to get a haircut, you’re going to be able to go to a hair salon.
In another radio appearance, the governor noted that the state is moving forward with caution.
“There will be standards. It’s not gonna be like it was before the coronavirus existed because you’ve got to understand this, even though we may be bending the curve, even though there may be fewer cases of the coronavirus, it hasn’t left the geography of the state of Texas. It is still here,” Abbott stated. “So, we have to continue that process to contain the spread, and that means that when businesses open up, they need to follow the safest practices so that they don’t contribute to spreading more of the coronavirus.”
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been over 23,700 COVID-19 cases reported in the state, and 623 deaths as of publication.
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