From beaches to businesses. This is how Houston reopened Friday

Waitress Fatima Hernandez, center, talks with Lulu Salcido, right, and Hamid Farzam at El Tiempo Cantina Friday, May 1, 2020, in Houston. The restaurant reopened their dining room for table service, with limited capacity, Friday. Texas' stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on many businesses that have now opened. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Waitress Fatima Hernandez, center, talks with Lulu Salcido, right, and Hamid Farzam at El Tiempo Cantina Friday, May 1, 2020, in Houston. The restaurant reopened their dining room for table service, with limited capacity, Friday. Texas' stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on many businesses that have now opened. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Friday was the first day of Texas governor’s phase 1 of reopening the state. Local businesses and restaurants listed in phase 1 welcomed their customers back with open doors after being shut for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

How restaurants reopened

KPRC 2 visited more than a dozen restaurants in the Greater Houston area, Friday, and found patron traffic at most of them was well below even the state-mandated 25% capacity.

Chains and independently-owned eateries largely just had a handful of patrons. The busiest restaurant we found was ‘La Madeline’ in the Town & Country shopping area.

The French bistro was near 25% capacity at lunch on Friday. Patrons we talked to at the restaurants we visited appeared to share similar a mindset: “I think people need to be balanced and enjoy life and they shouldn’t allow things stop them or frighten them from having a more normal existence,” Diner, Michael Smith, said.

Some restaurants have not yet restarted dine-in service, gauging the public’s appetite for eating out, and it appears plenty will not be in the immediate future.

“I love my friends inside and I love the workers, I think I want to keep them as safe as we are out here,” Liz Durepos, said as she picked up a to-go order.

‪Customers excited as Snappy’s in Katy opens for dine-in customers for the first time in two months. Only 25 allowed at a time. KPRC2 / Click2Houston #kprc2

Posted by KPRC2 Cathy Hernandez on Friday, May 1, 2020

How malls reopened

Shopping malls across the state were allowed to re-open. The Houston Galleria was one of them, said general manager Kurt Webb.

According to Webb, shoppers will notice several changes throughout the mall, an effort to safeguard customers and employees.

Webb said tables and chairs have been taken out of all food courts, restaurants will continue to function on a to-go basis only, there is a limit of four people allowed per elevator, and labels can be seen on doorways and walkways to keep foot-traffic moving.

All visitors are still advised to heed precautions, Webb said, like social distancing and wearing a mask. If a shopper does not have a mask, Webb said they are giving them away free of charge. They are also offering to take visitors’ temperatures upon request, according to Webb.

All shopping malls across the state must adhere to a 25% capacity limit. According to Webb, Galleria staff will enforce the mandate with a three-prong approach: watching visitors come and go, monitoring parking spots and using cellphone signals with geo-fencing technology.

Galveston beaches reopen

Galveston beach was busy but not packed on Friday afternoon after the ‘stay at home’ order was lifted and beaches re-opened. Local officials are stressing social distancing at the beach and people at the Seawall told KPRC they were being mindful to keep a safe distance from other beachgoers.


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