Dallas County

No Timeline for Bars to Reopen, Dallas County Judge Says

Dallas County is moving closer to its highest COVID-19 risk level, Judge Clay Jenkins says

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Bars across North Texas are preparing to reopen on Wednesday. Tarrant, Collin and Denton county bar owners got the go-ahead from county officials to reopen after being shut down for months.

Dallas County’s top elected official, however, is not budging.

Live music and cocktail lounge Alexandre’s in Oak Lawn stands silent and empty.

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“Alexandre’s has been closed since March 17,” owner Lee Daugherty said.

Despites neighboring county judges deciding to allow bars to reopen this week as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said there has been no change in his position about reopening bars at this time.

“No, I made my peace early on to listen to what the doctors say,” Jenkins said. “They are unanimous that it’s a bad idea to open bars.”

It is a position Daugherty supports.

“I promise you there is behavior in bars that you do not see anywhere else,” he said. “You do not see people standing up, walking around in restaurants.”

Reopening now, Jenkins asserted, would only add to rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Tuesday, Dallas County reported 606 confirmed cases and 32 probable cases of COVID-19 and one coronavirus-related death.

The county’s COVID-19 risk level color system is currently at "orange," which requires "extreme caution," and is inching in the wrong direction.

The system uses coronavirus hospitalizations, case counts and deaths to indicate where the county’s risk stands.

“We’re currently in orange,” Jenkins said. “If they [cases] keep going up we’ll be in red, our worst color.”

Daugherty said he understood the cautious approach. He only wishes the county would’ve helped the bar industry plan ahead.

“Getting more of this industry outside which has been proven to be safer,” he said. “Like ‘Hey bars, y’all should start working on expanding your patios or find new ways to dine outside to be outside.’ I think that would give us something to work on and something for the future.”

Other restaurant owners have been critical of Jenkins’ and said they do not feel like they’ve been part of the conversation.

“I’m not making a political decision like some of these other folks [county judges] are,” Jenkins said. “I’m making a decision based on what doctors who’ve trained their entire lives to advise in these moments are advising me.”

Tuesday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission released an interactive map showing counties approved to reopen under Abbott’s executive order.

An estimated 85 counties are eligible to reopen, according to the TABC.

However, counties with the largest cities, including Dallas and Houston, are not eligible at this time.

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