AUSTIN, Texas — Austin restaurants Launderette and Fresa’s announced Wednesday that they will no longer require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for indoor diners.
The restaurants announced Monday night proof of at least a first round of vaccination against COVID-19 would be required. In two later Instagram posts though, the restaurants said the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission told them this is not allowed under Senate Bill 968.
"We will still require guests to wear a mask indoors when not seated at a table. Masks will not be required for outdoor dining," the two posts said. "Thank you for the overwhelming amount of support that we have received from our community."
Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 968 on June 1 "relating to public health disaster and public health emergency preparedness and response; providing a civil penalty."
"A business in this state may not require a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer ’s COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery on entry to, to gain access to, or to receive service from the business," SB 968 says.
The restaurants, which share ownership groups, were the first to implement such a policy in Austin. It comes after several Austin-area concerts and events introduced similar policies in recent weeks, requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests.
Originally, those dining inside the restaurants would be asked for their vaccination card or photo of it, as well as an ID. Indoor diners at Launderette and Fresa’s would also be required to wear masks while not seated at a table.
Outdoor diners would not have needed proof of vaccination and would not have had to wear masks. Outdoor diners would be allowed to use the restrooms if masked, without showing proof of vaccination.
Families with children 11 and younger, a group not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, would have had to opt for patio dining.
“Austin is at Stage 5 and it just feels right for the safety of our employees and guests to do this," ownership told KVUE's media partners at the American-Statesman on Tuesday.
Ownership told the Statesman they had planned to keep the protocol in place at least while Austin remains in Stage 5.
Employees who are not vaccinated must provide weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test, according to the Statesman, and all employees are required to wear masks.
Under Stage 5 guidelines, Austin Public Health recommends unvaccinated and partially vaccinated residents avoid all restaurant dining and use curbside and delivery options.
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