UTA implements social distancing measures, safety protocols for on-campus dining

Signs and stanchions block off seating meant for dining July 8 in the University Center Palo Duro Lounge. Chairs and tables have been spaced apart to enforce social distancing.

Dining on campus will undergo significant adjustments for the fall semester to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The main changes are social distancing measures being implemented in lines and masks being required in dining areas until an individual sits down to eat, University Center director David Albart said.

Signage and floor decals will be in place to enforce health and social distancing requirements, Albart said.

“If dining on campus, you should wear your mask or face covering until you are ready to eat and then replace it afterward,” according to UTA’s Fall Repopulation Plan. “Eating establishments must meet requirements to allow at least 6 feet of distance between each customer, including lines and seating arrangements.”

Overflow seating for the Connection Café will be available in the Bluebonnet Ballroom and Maverick Café seating will carry into the retail areas in front if necessary, Albart said.

Chairs have been removed to maintain limited seating at tables. Those living in the same household may dine together at several large family tables that are still available, he said.

The Repopulation Plan suggests that individuals do not sit facing others.

The Palo Duro Lounge will host additional seating for the Plaza, said Stephanie Edgett, University Center contract management assistant director. Plexiglass will also be placed on each of the registers and food vendor areas such as Starbucks and the UC Market.

The Maverick Café's grilling portions will move into the Burger 817 area in order to spread out lines and space things out, Edgett said.

Buffets will no longer be available in dining areas, and self-serve areas such as salad bars will now be prepackaged for purchase.

“All of these typical self-serve areas will become served areas,” he said. “So you’ll no longer be able to go through and grab a slice of pizza yourself, it will be served to you.”

The dining halls will close at certain times before lunch and dinner for sanitization, but exact hours for closing have yet to be determined, Albart said.

Grubhub will be available as a pickup only option for the cafeteria along with all retail eateries, he said. Pickup locations throughout the UC will be made available to avoid overcrowding in the Plaza.

Meal plan rates will remain the same with no additional costs for the fall semester.

“Our intent is not to have any sort of limited services either,” Albart said. “While [dining] may be a little bit different, we’re hoping that [individuals are] still getting the same level of service they were provided before.”

Panera Bread and Pie Five Pizza Co. will undergo the same regulations set forth by Gov. Greg Abbott, Albart said.

Although he does have some oversight of the College Park District, he said the university does not have a say in the restaurants’ daily operations.

The College Park Center is finalizing details regarding event operations, and strategies regarding concessions sales at events are still in the planning process, said Jeff Davis, special event facilities executive director in an email Thursday.

@david___a23

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