BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – An executive order from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff declares that bars are officially free to reopen.
The order was in effect as of noon on Tuesday, Oct. 20, but Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission gave the final approval to reopen bars on Wednesday.
While most of the more than 3,000 bars in Bexar County reopened as restaurants, a previous KSAT report states that 425 establishments still had their doors closed.
At the end of July, TABC guidelines allowed bars to reclassify as restaurants under certain guidelines that fell under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.
Under the current order, bars and similar establishments are allowed to offer on-site services at up to “50% of the total listed indoor occupancy of the establishment,” according to the executive order.
Don’t expect things to look the same though. The order also states that patrons “may not eat or drink unless seated, except that in an establishment that holds a permit from TABC as a brewer, distiller/rectifier, or winery” and then patrons may sample drinks while standing as long as “they are in a group of six people or fewer and there is at least six feet of social distancing or engineering controls, such as partitions, between groups.”
Bars are also ordered to develop a health and safety policy as it relates to the executive order prior to reopening.
Requirements for the health and safety policy must meet minimum standards from the Department of State Health Services.
Recommendations for the health and safety policy for bars, based on the order, are:
- Prohibit standing or congregating indoors while waiting for a table or entering/exiting the premises and creating pre-set 6-foot distanced circles to help patrons observe safety measures
- Ensure: that ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors and prioritizing outdoor sealing
- Require that patrons to wear face coverings consist.enlly and correctly if not actively eating or drinking. including while dancing
- Keep tables or other seating areas at least 6 feet apart
- Prohibit the seating of different parties at one common table or seating area;
- Prohibit ordering, seating, or congregating at the bar service area (i.e., remove bar stools or take out of service)
- Pledge to commit to actively encouraging employees to stay home when they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 and implement policies that suppo1t that pledge, for example through the implementation of flexible sick leave policies.
Failure to develop, implement and post the Health and Safety Policy required by the order could result in a fine up to $1,000 for each violation of the public health declaration.
View the executive order from Wolff below: