Some Houston-area restaurants, bars accused of violating social-distancing guidelines

HOUSTON – A recent surge in coronavirus cases in Texas isn’t stopping some people from heading out.

A Snapchat video tagged at Bisou Restaurant in Houston shows a crowd inside with few people wearing masks.

Nearby at Flava Restaurant and Bar, the parking lot was packed with vehicles at night. Video also shows people close together on the patio with several not wearing masks.

When KPRC 2 stopped by Flava on Thursday, a man who said he was the owner asked us to get off the property. However, he said the business is in compliance. An employee at Bisou said the general manager was not there.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the state has limited capacity inside restaurants and requires employees and customers to wear masks where they cannot socially distance. The exception is when they are seated to eat or drink.

Houston's fire marshal, Alfredo Martinez, said most businesses are following the rules.

“It is very few cases where they choose not to,” he said. “Those cases we’ll refer to (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) for further action.”

He said the city has received more than 9,000 complaints in total since March. His teams try to educate people first, but Martinez said there are limits on what he can do.

"Barring any actual fire code violation, at this point, we're not shutting anyone down," Martinez said.

The latest the inspection teams generally work is midnight, and that’s just a few nights a week, he said. The city adjusted to the later hours on weekends because some businesses don’t open until 10 p.m.

Martinez said the number of businesses referred to TABC is a “very low,” but he didn’t provide an exact number.