FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley announced Monday bars are reopening at 50% capacity.

Judge Whitley said after talking to mayors in Tarrant County, hospital executives and bar owners, he is “comfortable we can do this and still be safe.”

He said decision has been more difficult than some of the others, because there’s not a right or wrong answer.

“As you’re balancing out the public health for the COVID virus, you also have to balance out the mental health, the financial consequences to many of these businesses, so we wanted to try to open up businesses as quick as we could and we feel like part of that decision today will help to again open up a major segment of the businesses we’ve had to close down.”

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley (CBS 11)

Judge Whitley said this decision was made after getting assurance from hospitals, they were comfortable with their capacity and staffing levels.

He said it’s important that Tarrant County residents remain vigilant and continue to wear masks and social distance.

If bars don’t follow the state guidelines, they will be shut down again.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to wear the masks, that we continue to do that and that we attempt to follow the rules because if we don’t and we have to shut this back down again, that’s going to hurt even more of these establishments because they’re going to stock up and be ready to go and then if we’ve got bad actors we may have to shut it down again,” said Judge Whitley.

Gov. Greg Abbott gave County Judges the authority to reopen bars and nightclubs starting on October 14.

“If flagrant violations of the occupancy requirements are ignored or COVID cases make up more than 15% of our Tarrant County hospital capacity, I won’t hesitate to close bars,” Whitley said.

Residents who witness establishments breaking guidelines, can submit a tip to the TABC by emailing complaints@tabc.texas.gov or by calling 1-888-THE-TABC.

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