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TABC keeping close eye on restaurants, bars; owners say they're taking Gov. Abbott's guidelines seriously

Austin restaurant owners told KVUE they hope people can follow the rules and not cause another shutdown.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) said it will suspend the licenses of bars and restaurants ignoring the state's COVID-19 health protocols.

Restaurant owners KVUE spoke with said the thought of others not following the rules is always on their mind, and they hope it doesn't get to the point of another shutdown. 

"Are we going to have to shut everything down as a country and start from scratch and go back to ground zero," asked Robby Nethercut, the COO and co-owner of Z-Tejas. "If we did have to shut down again, I think that it would be detrimental."

Nethercut said staff members at his restaurant do whatever they can to help prevent that. They check temperatures, refills drinks in new glasses and ask guests to come in with masks on. Those are only a few things on their long list of safety protocols. 

Texas bars and restaurants have to do their part to keep Texas safe ... and healthy by following the Office of the Governor Greg Abbott's Strike Force to Open Texas checklists. Businesses can face emergency license suspension if TABC finds they aren't following the guidelines and pose an immediate danger to the public.

The TABC said in a press release that requirements include indoor customer capacity limits of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants, along with social distancing of at least six feet between groups of customers.

It said it has inspected 3,000 bars and restaurants in Texas. The first infraction will result in an up to 30-day license suspension and the second infraction would be a 60-day suspension. TABC said most businesses are being responsible and following the rules.

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"It is essential that bars and restaurants follow the public safety checklist developed by the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas," TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. "There is nothing more important than the health and safety of Texans as we reopen, and there are consequences for businesses that do not follow the rules. TABC is working with local municipalities across the state to enforce the executive orders."

"We have been able to pivot a lot faster," said John Coronado, the co-owner and general manager of Aviary Wine and Kitchen

Coronado said they only let customers enjoy their food and wine on the patio. The restaurant and wine bar just opened two weeks ago with tables stocked with hand sanitizer. 

Coronado and Nethercut just hope other restaurant and bar owners are doing the same. 

"It's been a little challenging, of course, but at the same time we have taken the steps needed to make sure that we're following all the CDC guidelines," Coronado said.

RELATED: 28% of Austin hospital beds available amid COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Abbott says

"If places are asking me to do certain things, it's for a reason. It's to make sure that we don't go back to that place where we were and just be respectful of those rules," Nethercut said. 

KVUE reached out to the TABC to find out if they've given out any infractions in Austin, but we haven't received a response yet.

You can find the full list of Z-Tejas' safety protocols below: 

"To ensure the health and safety of our guests and employees, we will be taking temperatures of our employees before the start of their shift and of our guests before allowing them into the restaurant:

  • We will be checking for elevated temperatures above 99 degrees. Anyone will a temperature above that number will not be allowed in.
  • Once seated, guests will receive a one-use paper menu.
  • We will be providing dine-in guests with pre-wrapped cutlery kits with silverware that was wrapped immediately after being washed and sanitized.
  • Drink refills will be served in a new glass.
  • We are using 99% alcohol-based wipes to thoroughly wipe down all tables and chairs after guests and will be rotating tables after every guest. Customers won't be seated at the same table directly after another guest.
  • Our team members will be required to wear and mask and gloves during the entirety of their shift.
  • Guests will also be required to wear a mask to enter the restaurant.
  • Masks can be removed while seated but must be put back on to walk around the restaurant.
  • This is for all guests, whether sitting inside or on the patio.
  • We are utilizing our patios from both our restaurant and special event space to accommodate more guests while still practicing social distancing.
  • Curbside pickup and delivery options are available for those customers who do not yet feel ready to dine with us at our restaurants."

WATCH: Austin's 'stay home' order extended as city enters Stage 4

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