AUSTIN, Texas - Bars were excluded from Gov. Greg Abbott’s 75% capacity expansion plan and are still not allowed to reopen. Bar owners feel like their businesses are being left behind.
“This is devastating. There are about 7-8,000 51% licenses in the state of Texas. and, you know, we feel that 30% of our membership has already closed and it could be up to half, one out of every two bars and nightclubs will not return," said Michael Klein, President of the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance.
Under Gov. Abbott’s new order, several businesses are now allowed to reopen at 75% capacity including restaurants, retail stores, and gyms. “Because bars are nationally recognized as COVID spreading locations, they are still not able to reopen at this time,” said Abbott on Thursday.
Klein says he wasn't surprised that the governor left out bars in his expansion plan. “Although I will say as much as they were hoping it would have been different news, I don't think too many people were that shocked based on his abysmal handling of this situation since March,” he said.
However, some bars are reopening as restaurants. In fact, the TABC says over 1,000 of the 8,000 bars in the state have switched their business models to run more like a restaurant after a change in regulation.
“Texans are smart people, we understand these things and having a pre-packaged sandwich from the 7/11 or chips and salsa doesn't somehow make a business not a public health threat,” said Klein.
Klein says his goal is to get all bars back open. He says TBNA has even presented a plan to the governor’s office.
“There were much more stringent standards for what bars and nightclubs would need to reopen including temperature taking, mandatory mask-wearing, some extra training, and health procedures,” he said.
For now, Klein says he will continue to reach out to the Governor and wait.
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