Closing Time for Bars Across Texas

As cases of coronavirus have continued to rise across Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has taken a noticeably different tone of late.  This week, Abbott made the decision to halt any further private sector expansion, preventing more businesses from reopening, and capping all opened businesses at their current capacities.  But Abbott took that a step further as of Friday, ordering the closure of any establishment in the state that receives more than 51-percent of its revenue from alcohol sales.

“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10-percent, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said Friday.  “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars.”

Local Austin bar owner Bob Woody, who also serves as the chair of the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance, is very concerned about how this will impact bar owners in every city and county in Texas.  Woody tells KLBJ the impact from the first shutdown may pale in comparison to what’s coming next.

“I think across Texas, back when that took place, I would say that there were hundreds that did not come back,” Woody said.  “Now, with this going in place, I think we’ll get into the thousands, I do.”

The order includes the following:

  • All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close as of 12:00 p.m. Friday. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission;
  • Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning Monday, June 29, 2020;
  • Rafting and tubing businesses must close;
  • Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

“The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health,” Abbott said. “We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part. Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.”

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