AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas is allowing bars to reopen in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, the governor said bars and similar establishments can reopen at a 50% limited capacity starting on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
According to Abbott, county judges will need to authorize their county into reopening bars by helping in enforcing health protocols.
Abbott’s executive order on Wednesday also allows businesses like amusement parks, movie theaters, zoos and bowling alleys to expand to a 75% limited capacity beginning on Oct. 14.
“To ensure that hospital capacity for COVID patients is maintained, these expansions apply only in the hospital regions where COVID hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity,” Abbott said.
The governor said mandatory protocols recommended by trade associations include keeping dance floors at bars closed, patrons must be seated while eating or drinking (with exceptions at places like breweries, distilleries and wineries) and masks must be worn when not seated. Tables must also be limited to six people or less.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are currently 773,435 confirmed cases of the virus, along with 16,111 deaths.
Abbott also said in a statement on his executive order:
“Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19. Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for additional openings, including bars. Working with industry leaders and our team of medical experts, the State of Texas has now developed strategies to safely open bars under certain health protocols. To ensure bars open safely, these openings will be done in conjunction with county officials. County Judges will be able to opt their county into opening bars so long as they assist in enforcing the health protocols. Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus. As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said on Twitter that he would not take part in reopening bars at this time.
“Regarding opening bars in Dallas County: I will not file to open them at this time. Below is the current guidance from the Public Health Committee and @DCHHS. We are in orange but our numbers are increasing (BadI) I will listen to everyone but will follow the science,” Jenkins said.
In Tarrant County, Judge Glen Whitley has not yet made a decision on reopening bars. He asked the district attorney to review the governor’s order.
Collin County Judge Chris Hill said he is reviewing the order, as well.