For the first time in nearly four months, bars in much of Texas will be able to open their doors to customers on Wednesday.
Last week, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order which allows bars to open for business. The order reverses his previous order which demanded that bars close on June 26. The statewide closure came on the advice of public health officials during a spike in COVID-19 cases, many of which were believed to be linked to large gatherings, including at bars.
County Judges in Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties have indicated that they will allow bars to open as of Wednesday, under the parameters put in place by the Governor.
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Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has indicated he is not prepared to open bars for business until coronavirus cases begin to decline.
Bars must keep occupancy inside of their buildings to 50 percent or below. Occupancies are not restricted for outdoor patio areas, according to the order, but social distancing will be enforced by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Customers inside of bars must remain seated, according to the Governor, and bars must close for business for the night at 11 p.m.
The extended shutdown has crippled the bar industry, according to the President of the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance.
“No other sector of the Texas economy is being handled this way. Livelihoods are being destroyed by keeping doors closed. We estimate that at least half of our members will never be able to reopen," Michael Klein noted in a statement.
Klein added that a major concern for bar owners moving forward is the lack of clarity for when they can move beyond the 50 percent occupancy limit, and the lack of communication with the industry about how they can modify their businesses to best take advantage of the restrictions.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.