QUESTION: My wife and I had lunch today at a local restaurant. All employees working the guest area wore face masks. We noticed the employees working in the kitchen did not have on face masks. What are the face mask rules for all restaurant employees?
ANSWER: Masks are a recommendation, not a requirement, including in restaurants.
The governor’s reopening guidance for restaurants says, “Consistent with the actions taken by many restaurants across the state, consider having all employees and contractors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). If available, employees and contractors should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.”
Our local environmental health manager, Leisha Kidd-Brooks, and her employees have been working with restaurants as the state has started to reopen, and she said they “strongly” encourage masks, and in particular for restaurant employees who work with the public.
It’s hot in the kitchen, though, she said, and those employees are not interacting with the public.
She also noted that all restaurant employees are being screened each day.
The governor’s office requirements say employees are to be sent home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, feeling feverish or a measured temperature of 100 degree or higher and known close contact with someone who has a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19. There also are requirements set for when people in those circumstances may return to work.
Q: I have my 89th birthday coming up in a few weeks. I need to renew my driver’s license by that date. I call and call and call the local Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license office, and all I get is recordings and then a busy signal. How can I go about contacting them to find out what’s going on? I know they have a special program going now during the ... pandemic for driver’s license renewals. I need to know that so I can find out.
A: Happy (early) birthday, and I’m sorry you have to celebrate in the middle of a pandemic.
For right now, you will not be able physically renew your license. That’s OK, though, because the state has extended the expiration date of Texas driver’s licenses that expired on or after March 13 (you know, when all this mess started.) A May 21 notice on the Texas Department of Public Safety website says the extension will remain in effect “for 60 days after which time DPS issues public notice that the extension period has been lifted and all normal operations have resumed. As of this release, that 60-day period has not begun. Due to the extension still being active, appointments for renewals will not be available until further notice.”
So, you can’t get your license renewed for right now, but it’s been automatically extended. State and local law enforcement have been notified of the extension, according to the DPS.
The DPS did start reopening driver’s license offices in phases, and Longview’s is now open, but only by appointment and only for limited services, specifically for people “who are seeking a first-time Texas DL, commercial driver license (CDL), learner license or identification (ID) card, as well as those who need to take a driving test.”
Services are expected to expand to include renewals later this summer, but specific information about that is not available.
People who want to make an appointment for available services should visit www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense .