HOUSTON/MIAMI (Reuters) – Bar and restaurant owners in Texas and Florida were fuming on Friday after state officials abruptly slapped new restrictions on their businesses due to a spike in new COVID-19 cases.

Owners warned the sudden reversals, just weeks after accelerated reopenings, will drive some out of business.

“You can’t turn a bar into an UberEats,” said Jeff Kaplan, co-owner of Houston’s Axelrad Beer Garden. He said businesses could not stay afloat relying on the new rules that provide to-go sales but not alcohol consumption on the premises.

Houston officials advised residents to stay home, and Texas ordered doctors to end elective surgeries as new coronavirus cases set records on three consecutive days. Florida reported nearly 9,000 new infections on Friday, also a record high.

Houston restaurant owner Peter Mitchell said his revenue has been running a third of normal and fell further as virus cases soared in the region.

“It’ll be a close call as to whether we stay open,” he said.

“I wish we had tougher restrictions for another month when we did the 25% occupancy (phase),” said Mitchell. He said his business never has exceeded 25% occupancy, but noted that no regulators have ever checked.

Florida owners also complained that counties and cities in the state had inconsistent operating rules.

“The level of ambiguity that we’ve run into every step of the way has been really challenging,” said Will Thompson, owner of Miami’s Jaguar Sun. “It comes back to the lack of clarity from officials.”

Anthony Wegmann, who ran four bars and restaurants in Texas, closed two after a landlord would not grant a reprieve on rent. “There’s no way a business can pay 100% of their bills on 25% of their revenue,” he said.

Some are willing to accept the loss of business for the public good. “It was a little unexpected,” said Sara Murray, manager of the Cheers Pub in Friendswood, Texas. “In the end we all have to do what we have to do to keep everyone safe.

Reporting by Zachary Ferguson in Miami and Erwin Seba in Houston; writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by David Gregorio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Busting poverty – mission accomplished

Effectiveness of precision-driven targeting program wins plaudits around the globe An A4-sized red card hangs above the front door of Xiao Fumin’s home in a remote village called Bashang in the mountainous area of Jinggangshan in East China’s Jiangxi province.…

He went down the QAnon rabbit hole for two years. Here’s how he escaped the virtual cult

One day in June 2019, Jitarth Jadeja went outside to smoke a cigarette. For two years he’d been in the virtual cult of QAnon. But now he’d watched a YouTube video that picked apart the last element of the theory…

Oil and European shares rise as lockdowns ease; gold jumps

LONDON (Reuters) – European stock markets rose on Monday and oil prices climbed to their highest in as much as two months as a loosening of coronavirus shutdowns boosted market sentiment, even though the deadly outbreak has yet to be…

Few U.S. firms see Trump’s Phase 1 China trade deal as worth tariff costs: survey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Few U.S. companies doing business in China view President Donald Trump’s Phase 1 trade deal as being worth the cost of tariffs incurred over a two-year trade war, a new survey by the U.S.-China Business Council showed…