AUSTIN – On Monday Governor Abbott teased an exciting announcement, and today he made the official announcement.
Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order to open bars and similar establishments at up to 50% capacity in conjunction with county officials. This means, starting on October 14, in hospital regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations, County Judges will be able to opt their county into opening bars. However, they are required to assist in enforcing health protocols.
In addition, the Governor’s Executive Order increases the occupancy levels for all business establishments other than bars to 75%.
“”Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “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 Jenkins tweeted he will not be filing to reopen bars due to current public health guidance. At this time, we have not seen an official statement from Ellis County.
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. pic.twitter.com/wvak33TnZw
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) October 7, 2020
For Trauma Service Areas (TSAs) where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity, a County Judge may authorize the opening of bars and similar establishments at 50% occupancy. If a County Judge authorizes the opening of these establishments, certain protocols must be followed. As recommended by trade associations representing bars, dance floors at bars and similar establishments must remain closed.
Consistent with protocols for restaurants, all patrons must be seated while eating or drinking (with limited exceptions for sampling at breweries, distilleries, and wineries), and must wear masks when they are not seated at a table. Additionally, tables must be limited to six individuals or less and all establishments must follow specific curfew guidelines.
Beginning Wednesday, October 14, all counties where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity can open all businesses other than bars to 75% capacity.