HOUSTON - New video posted publicly to Snapchat over the weekend shows crowded Houston area restaurants and bars.
According to Houston Fire Marshals, they’ve received more than 10,000 social distancing complaints since mid-March.
“We’re averaging about 80 complaints per day,” said Houston Fire Marshal Alfredo Martinez. “We just cleared 10,000 complaints.”
La Fogata on Eastex Freeway was forced to close Saturday night for violating COVID-19 restrictions. We’re told between 200-300 people were inside their establishment.
“As we were investigating this, and looking into their permits, the [La Fogata] manager made an announcement that they were shutting the event down,” said Martinez. “We just let that happen. They shut it down. It was pretty peaceful after that.”
On Friday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) sent out a letter that warned businesses what happens if they ignore Texas COVID-19 restrictions.
“When a business tells TABC it doesn’t intend to follow these orders, you leave the agency with no option but to revoke your license and shut you down,” said the TABC letter.
Despite complaints, a majority of local businesses appear to be following the Coronavirus restrictions.
Monday, we met with Brian Ching, owner of Pitch 25 Beer Park. According to Ching, they’ve been following the state rules and have had their doors closed for months.
“As you can see, we’re closed so we’re not doing too good,” said Ching. “Revenue wise, we’ll probably do about 25 percent to what we did last year. It’s a significant impact.”
Last week, TABC announced new measures that will allow some bars to apply for restaurant permits. If approved, some of these establishments will be allowed to open as restaurants. Ching tells us they’re in the process of this at Pitch 25.
“Once we change the designation from our permit to more of a restaurant, we’ll be able to open,” said Ching. “It will allow our employees back to work which will be the biggest thing. Even if we come back as a restaurant, I don’t think we’ll be making any money.”
According to a TABC spokesperson, they’ve inspected roughly 10,000 businesses statewide since June and issued about 60 citations.
“The overwhelming majority is complying,” said Martinez. “We’ve only had to refer 25 businesses to the TABC. You’d think that would be a lot higher in a city this size.”
Houston Fire Marshals enforce social-distancing rules based on complaints they receive. If you’re worried about a business in Houston ignoring rules you can call 311.