DALLAS - Dallas Code Compliance officials said officers will not be out late at night checking to see if bars remain at limited capacity when they reopen Friday, but state regulators will.
Compliance officers have done almost 20,000 inspections since the COVID-19 pandemic began, issuing citations to only a few dozen businesses.
Their plan as bars begin to reopen is to preemptively inspect.
Bars are reopening across North Texas, just as people begin the long Memorial Day weekend.
“We were going to go out on Friday, and Bottled Blonde is going to be opening up,” Faith Warren said.
Some have only one concern.
“Whether or not we’ll get in,” Warren said.
But the 150 code compliance officers with the city of Dallas have other concerns.
To date, they've issued 34 citations, carrying a penalty of at least $1,000, to businesses caught violating reopening guidelines.
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And as bars prepare to open, compliance officers are making the rounds to let managers know what the rules are.
“Proactively go out, even before they open, to talk to and try to reach as many bar owners as possible,” said Andrew Espinoza, assistant director with the Dallas Code Compliance Department.
He added that officers will not be out at bars, or out late at night, making sure rules are being followed.
“Unfortunately, we are not going to be working into the late night hours,” Espinoza added.
Bars must be at 25 percent occupancy, seat just six people per table, and socially distance tables.
Outdoor seating does not have a capacity limit, but social distancing must be followed.
Dancing and close-contact interactions are discouraged.
FOX4 asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott if he's worried about crowds at bars.
“We've had many conversations with the owners of bars and the association representing them. They came up with terrific strategies that can make sure to maintain safe distancing that can prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said. “I know they want to get back to work. They have employees to hire, bills to pay, and food to put on the table. So I know they will operate in safe ways."
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will be out to make sure bars comply, and if bars don’t, TABC can suspend bars’ licenses.
Stirr, in Deep Ellum, Addison, and Fort Worth, has been cleaning each location for the past three days in preparation.
Bowl & Barrel at The Shops at Park Lane has a tongue and cheek campaign to ensure patrons all equipment will be cleaned.
And The Rustic is upping its occupancy to 50 percent, allowed as of Friday for restaurants.
FOX4 asked Dallas Code Compliance whether it’s difficult to enforce reopening guidelines after the governor allowed for Salon A La Mode owner Shelly Luther to be released from jail for reopening before she was supposed to.
Compliance workers said their job is just to enforce, the rest is political.