Through an initiative with the city of Dallas and the CARES Act, Dallas City Council members have been providing some local restaurants with personal protective equipment.
“I love our local restaurants,” District 6 City Council member Omar Narvaez says. "But even seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, some people still show up to places without masks. We don’t want the employees or owners of a restaurant to have to fight with this, so we’re trying to help."
He also realizes the substantial strain small restaurants have been put under since the pandemic. Narvaez recently dropped off hand sanitizer and masks to Locura Small Bites on Singleton Boulevard.
"We opened Locura Small Bites in West Dallas in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit," owner Mel Arizpe says. "At that time, PPE was scarce due to high demand. Not only was it costly, but it was hard to find. It has definitely been an added cost during a time when we're already struggling."
Arizpe says most customers wear masks, but they do get some who ask if the restaurant can provide one. Providing masks, in addition to sanitizer and cleaning products, adds up quickly.
"Can't sling elotes or anything else these days without a mask. The PPE that councilman Narvaez provided was vital to our survival, and we are thankful," Arzipe says.
Narvaez says $3 million of the city's budget has been allocated to help supply PPE to different organizations, nonprofits and people in need. He and Chad West, council member for District 1 (North Oak Cliff), as well as Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, have been trying to help some of their residents and local restaurants with bags of masks, hand sanitizer and gloves.
Narvaez points out that disposable masks have about a 48-hour life. So he recently ordered cloth masks to help families and small business owners for more than just two days by giving them masks they can wash and reuse often. And with school back in session, for many, the need has grown.
“Outside of the airline industry, our restaurants and bars have taken the hardest hit, but we need them. They’re the backbone of our communities,” Narvaez says.
West partnered with the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, County Commissioner Elba Garcia, council member Casey Thomas (District 3) and Methodist Hospital to create a campaign for #WePPEinOC, which is intended to promote the safe use of PPE in restaurants and businesses in Oak Cliff.
Restaurants are now allowed to be open at 75% capacity indoors and 100% outdoors, but unfortunately, the daily infection rate for COVID-19 cases in Dallas County is trending upward; there were an average of 350 new daily cases last week, versus 282 the week prior.
County Judge Clay Jenkins quickly points to restaurants, writing in an Oct. 3 tweet, “These numbers, along with the Governor’s recent decision to move the occupancy limit at businesses to 75%, are a strong reminder of the importance of wearing a mask and maintaining six-foot distancing with frequent hand washing.”
“We know better now,” Narvaez says about the importance of us all dutifully wearing masks whenever we’re out.
If your business needs help with PPE either for your employees or customers, use this map to find your City Council member and contact his or her office about assistance. This is available to individual residents, as well.