Texas bar owners have been pressing to reopen after Gov. Greg Abbott shuttered bars and establishments whose receipts consist of 51% or more of alcohol sales in mid-March and then again in June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott last week said that county judges in Texas' 254 counties could each determine whether bars and similar establishments in their jurisdiction can reopen at 50% capacity, with certain stipulations, on Oct. 14. To qualify, counties must have less than 15% of hospital capacity taken up by COVID-19 patients.
In order for a county to opt in to the governor’s order, a county judge may file a form with TABC to reopen bars at limited capacity for that region, if the county meets the hospitalization requirement.
KSAT reached out to several local counties, in addition to Bexar, to see where they stand.
Here are the current decisions from county judges for Bexar and the surrounding counties regarding the reopening of bars:
- Atascosa - Bars can reopen on Oct. 14.
- Bexar - City officials announced that local bars can reopen at 50% capacity on Oct. 21.
- Bandera - County Judge Richard Evans told KSAT he submitted an application to TABC to allow bars to reopen Wednesday and is currently waiting to hear if the request has been approved.
- Comal - Bars can reopen on Oct. 14. “Many businesses in our community have been struggling because of the pandemic, but we have an opportunity to re-open in a way that keeps customers and employees safe,” said Comal County Judge Sherman Krause. “COVID-19 is still a threat to our community but this is a small step we can take towards getting back to normal. Business owners need to take this health threat seriously, but we can still provide a safe environment while open for business. It’s up to us to do it right.”
- Frio - No official date has been announced. KSAT reached out to County Judge Arnulfo Luna, who said the matter of “reopening of the bars is set for discussion in Commissioners' Court” Tuesday afternoon.
- Gillespie - No official date has been announced. KSAT reached out to County Judge Mark Stroeher for comment and was told by his office staff that no decision had been reached as of Monday afternoon.
- Gonzales - No official date has been announced. KSAT reached out to County Judge Patrick Davis for comment.
- Guadalupe - Bars can reopen on Oct. 14.
- Hays - Allowed to reopen on Oct. 14, according to the county website. Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said, “our health department team said they would support the reopening if bar owners and patrons are able to continue making safety a priority." A press release from Hays County officials states that “guidance from the Texas Department of State Health Services indicates bars would need to close by 11 p.m. for the foreseeable future.”
- Karnes - No official date has been announced. KSAT reached out to County Judge Wade Hedtke for comment.
- Kendall - Bars can reopen on Oct. 14.
- Kerr - Bars can reopen on Oct. 14.
- Medina - A representative for County Judge Chris Schuchart said that Medina County “is going to follow the Governor’s Orders regarding the bars reopening at 50% effective 10/14/2020.”
- Wilson - Bars can reopen on Oct. 14.
Since Texas bars were closed in mid-March, it’s been a waiting game for owners on whether they could stay open. Bars were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity on May 22, got the go-ahead to increase capacity to 50% on June 3, and then on June 26, Abbott issued an executive order to reclose all bars with roughly 3 hours notice.
TABC’s Coronavirus Information Page features an interactive map listing the Texas counties that have been approved to allow bars to reopen under Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32.
Some bars have reclassified under a new TABC rule so that they can operate as a restaurant and still serve alcohol. The City of San Antonio has been issuing violations to establishments that violate social distancing guidelines, including Cowboys Dancehall.
This article will continue to be updated with the latest information from the counties listed above.