AUSTIN, Texas - Texas bars are allowed to reopen at 50% occupancy starting today (10/14) in counties where COVID-19 hospitalizations make up less than 15% of hospital capacity.
Governor Greg Abbott is giving the choice to county judges on whether to opt in or not and Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe has decided to keep bars in Travis County closed.
In a statement, Judge Biscoe said, "Based on the memo from Dr. Mark Escott, COVID-19 continues to be a threat to Travis County. In the past ten days, Travis County has seen an increase in hospitalized individuals, ICU bed utilization, and ventilator use. As such, I cannot in good conscience allow bars to reopen at 50% of capacity at this time. The risk to our public health is too great, especially now that students of all ages have returned to the classroom."
“As we move forward, I will continue to work with Dr. Escott to reevaluate data collected and in fourteen days will determine if Travis County is in a position to safely reopen bars. Until then, I encourage everyone to continue practicing safety measures that will help us reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”
Under the new Texas Health and Human Services guidelines, bars or similar establishments must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m each night.
Customers must be seated while eating or drinking, everyone should maintain social distancing, and the bar should be set up to ensure that. Tables of more than six people are also not allowed.
Employees must wear face coverings, continuous disinfecting should be done and dance floors will stay closed.
Governor Abbott says that following the protocols can ensure that Texas bars won't have to shut down for a third time this year.
Back in March bars and restaurants were shut down. In May, they were allowed to re-open with some capacity limits. But, after seeing COVID-19 spikes Governor Abbott ordered them to be shut down again.