FORT WORTH, Texas - The surge of cases led a Fort Worth restaurant owner to make the tough decision to cut off indoor dining.
His decision comes as Tarrant County health leaders urge people to opt for takeout instead.
A busy kitchen churns out orders and fresh tortillas at Frezko Tacos in north Fort Worth.
The dining room, however, is shuttered.
“It’s a hard decision. You really don’t know what’s going to happen until you actually do it. Thank God our customers have been so faithful to us,” owner Eliazar Salinas said.
Salinas halted indoor dining last Thursday amid Tarrant County’s extreme COVID-19 surge.
He’s in touch with relatives in Michigan and Illinois, two states that have rolled back re-openings because of the worsening pandemic, and many customers at Frezko work at a nearby hospital.
“Once the doctors started to tell me this is going on, and my family is up north in the Chicago area, in Detroit area. They said Illinois is shutting down and I think Michigan shut down last night,” Salinas explained. “I took precautions and I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to wait for the state. I’ve never waited for them the first time or the second time I shut down.’”
Salinas’ action comes at a time when Tarrant County leaders are urging people to avoid dining inside restaurants, citing a CDC statistic that “41% of the people found positive with COVID had at least one indoor dining experience over the previous two weeks.”
Tarrant County Public Health Director Dr. Vinny Taneja advises restaurants who cannot temporarily halt indoor dining to step up safety measures by using Plexiglas dividers between tables and booths, and reducing dining room capacity.
“If they can bring it down as much as they can, 50%, 25%. As low as you can go that would be a good idea,” Dr. Taneja said. “And the reason is when you limit the capacity, you can naturally space people so they are not sitting together with each other.”
Salinas said he can only speak to what he felt was important for himself, his customers, and staff, which includes his parents, who work at the restaurant.
“I had to make sure I keep them safe because they’re working with me, by my side, and for me, in my situation, it’s better for me to close it,” Salinas said.