2 Austin-area counties opt in to reopen bars

The VFW post in Georgetown is among the bars that will be allowed to reopen next Wednesday.

The doors will be unlocked and the alcohol will flow again because Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell has decided to opt-in to Gov. Greg Abbott's reopening plan.

“it’s time for us to open up businesses but we need to do it wisely and we need to do it thoughtfully,” said Gravell.



Gravell made it clear, the rules for reopening go beyond just staying at or under 50% occupancy. “There are four pages of guidelines and it would be in your best interest to follow all of those guidelines,” he said.

The reopening plan includes wine tasting rooms. They are classified as bars but essentially are like car dealership showrooms. Bertram Winery owner Gail Fowler recently explained why they are important. "The way we introduce people to our wines is by tasting our wines,” said Fowler.

RELATED: Bars in Texas will be allowed to open at 50% capacity after Oct 14

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape Thursday announced he is also opting in, but the overall impact is not expected to be that big. Most bars in Bastrop County have already converted into restaurant status and only about five bars remained closed.

Burnet County is opting in, but it may not be until Friday when a decision will be issued from Caldwell County

In making the reopening announcement Wednesday, Abbott noted how different areas in the state have different levels of COVID-19 cases. That's why he left the reopening decision up to local county judges.

RELATED: Abbott "passed the buck" on reopening bars, says TBNA

“Until now only two businesses have not been open since July. One is river tubing operations and the other is bars it is time to open them up,” said Abbott on Wednesday.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra is holding off on making a decision, saying in a statement:

“We will be reaching out to all local officials to ensure we are considering all aspects of this change before we make any public comments on the direction of the county. It is imperative that we take precaution and make all efforts to ensure that our decision is made in the best interest of our community.”

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe is also among those still on the fence. A spokesman for the judge said any decision will be based on advice from health authority Mark Escott regarding the guidelines, and from the county attorney regarding enforcement.

RELATED: Counties react to Texas bars being allowed to reopen next week

Judge Biscoe understands bar owners need to know soon in order to prepare to comply with all the reopening guidelines.


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