County judges in a little more than 30% of Texas counties are taking advantage of Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest loosening of COVID-19 restrictions and allowing bars to reopen today. Abbott announced last week that bars could reopen on Oct. 14, but he left the final decision and enforcement actions for each individual county up to the county judges.
The state’s most populous counties — Bexar, Dallas, Harris, El Paso and Travis counties — are among the two-thirds of the state’s counties that are not ready to have bars back in business.
In the counties that have opted in to Abbott’s plan, bars will be limited to 50% capacity. Masks are required. Tables must be limited to six customers or fewer. Dance floors are off limits, and all establishments must close by 11 p.m.
About a quarter of Texas bars are already open because they have tweaked their operations to get classified as restaurants.
The Texas Restaurant Association views Abbott’s new order as progress but says more is needed.
“Without additional help from our federal, state, and local governments, Texas will see a wave of restaurants and other hospitality business closures that will gravely impact our economy, our communities, and our food supply chain,” the TRA noted in a statement issued following Abbott’s announcement last week.
The governor’s order also increases the occupancy levels for all business establishments other than bars to 75%. This includes theaters, water parks, zoos, bingo halls and more.