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Restaurants allowed to expand dining area use to 50%

Right now, the TRA is reporting that 12% of restaurants have permanently closed and if they can't safely expand quicker they are afraid that number will jump to 30%.

AUSTIN, Texas — Restaurants can now serve more people in one setting. As of May 22, Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing restaurants to use 50% of their dining areas instead of 25%.

"We were excited to hear they were actually having some dine-in opportunities," said Manuel's customer Laura Vanek.

Things are shaking back up at Manuel's in Great Hills. After being completely closed for seven weeks, one of the owners of Manuel's said she is excited about expanding service. 

"The 50%, we're excited about that because it will help us in this recovery," said Co-owner Jennifer McNevin.

McNevin said temperatures are being checked at the door and employees are required to wear masks and gloves. She said business isn't pouring in, but it's better than expected.

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"We normally can feed up to 270 guests. We're fortunate that we have so much space to spread people out," said McNevin.

"We are excited to be moving forward, but what is happening now with 50% for many restaurants, with the table spacing requirement of 6 feet between parties, they can't actually add more tables to get to 50%," said Texas Restaurant Association President and CEO Emily Williams Knight. 

Knight said not all restaurants are large, so they are pushing for a change in the requirements. 

"We think by reducing to a 3-foot separation between parties and also using either partitions or you see in retail and grocery the use of Plexiglas, we want to have those options as well," said Knight.

"Obviously, we don't want to stay at 50% any longer than we have to, but our priority is safety," said McNevin. "A restaurant is very expensive to run and operate." 

"So, more help is probably going to be needed as well as the support of our loyal patrons," McNevin added.

WATCH: Texas restaurants can now double capacity

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