DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Bars across Texas were required to shut down at noon on Friday, under an order issued by Governor Greg Abbott.
The move comes as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.
The positivity rate in Texas now exceeds 10%.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” stated Gov. Abbott in a news release.
Bars have been allowed to operate in Texas since May 22, when Gov. Abbott lifted the restrictions for such establishments for the first time since the pandemic.
The executive action will create a whiplash effect for some bar owners and employees, many of whom will need to apply for unemployment benefits.
Several regular customers at Lee Harvey’s in Dallas had no idea the order was in effect when they visited the neighborhood bar Friday afternoon.
General manager Timm Zbylut turned away several customers.
“I’m worried for our staff, I’m worried for a lot of bartenders and kitchen guys,” Zbylut said. “They’re paycheck to paycheck and shift to shift.”
While bars must shutter indefinitely, restaurants can stay open as long as they will drop to from 75% capacity to 50% capacity starting Monday.
Zbylut said that’s unfair.
“We opened later than restaurants did, but how do we not follow the same protocols?” Zbylut said.
Thousands of jobs now hang in the balance as businesses are still trying to recover from the initial shutdown.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t have a job today,” said Kevin Huff, the owner of The Avenue Sports Grill.
The Avenue will stay open because it sells more food than alcohol, which technically makes it a restaurant.
But owner Kenny Huff said he feels for his friends who will be impacted by the executive order.
“I think people felt like they had a chance to make a living again, and now all of a sudden, round two,” Huff said. “And a lot of people won’t make it through round two.”
Back at Lee Harvey’s, the bar is quiet and the picnic tables are empty.
But the gates will stay locked as long as the governor says so.
“We’ll get back to business as usual,” Zbylut said. “One day.”
Establishments that have been ordered to close will be allowed to remain open for takeout and delivery services, which include alcoholic beverages.