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75% capacity increase could bring some relief to businesses

Experts say the economy won't go back to normal until we get a better handle on this pandemic.

HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement allowing businesses to increase their capacity to 75% is bringing hope to many struggling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It does give us more of an opportunity to open up more reservation slots now that we have a higher capacity and more tables to utilize as well," Sydney Crouch, the operating partner with Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, said. “We are very excited for that.”

Some say we’re headed in the right direction. An increase in clients means businesses can hire more workers.

"This definitely gives us the opportunity to see who we can bring on to the team," Crouch said.

University of Houston economics professor, Dr. Dietrich Vollrath, said every little step helps, especially for those small mom and pop shops that are struggling to stay afloat.

"There are plenty of small businesses restaurants that are dying to just add some tables. The difference between making the rent and making the payments," Vollrath said.

But this increase in capacity doesn’t mean businesses are out of the woods yet. The professor said the economy and public health go hand in hand. And we won’t go back to a normal economy until we get a better handle on this pandemic.

"If we release a little early, are we asking another July spike? And we are just going to see that in October, and then we are right at the bottom of the hill again,” Vollrath said. “With full respect to the governor, there is not an obvious answer to that question.”

Again, businesses are optimistic but it’s still unknown if people will feel comfortable going to places that are at 75% capacity.

The professor said a second relief bill would be a big help some of these struggling businesses to survive.