November 24, 2020

Central Texas bars reopening and staying closed

Bars can only reopen on Oct. 14 if the county judge of each county opts in with the TABC.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor’s note: KVUE has reached out to all Central Texas county judges on their decision. This story will be updated on what they decide.

Some local bars are reopening their doors again.

On Sept. 7, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that all Texas bars can reopen at 50% capacity after hinting about it on social media. But, there’s a catch. The bars can only reopen on Oct. 14 if the county judge of each county opts in with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). 

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott announces Texas bars can reopen at 50% capacity if county judges opt in

The bars in counties that do allow them to reopen must follow strict guidelines. Bars must make sure all customers are seated while eating or drinking and groups are spaced at least 6 feet apart. Tables of more than six people are not allowed, according to guidelines added to the Strike Force to Open Texas page. 

In addition, all customers and employees must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when social distancing is not possible.

Here’s a list of what the plans are for Central Texas counties:

Bastrop County

Judge Paul Pape is authorizing bars in the county to reopen after consulting with mayors and local health authorities.

Blanco county

The Blanco County judge is considering whether to opt in or not.

Burnet County

Burnet County Judge James Oakley said the county will opt in.

Caldwell County

In a letter on Friday, Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden said the county will opt in and allow bars to operate at 50% capacity. Judge Haden said the COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced through spot-checks by law enforcement and county officials.

Hays County

Hays County has elected to allow the reopening of bars, but officials are urging caution.

“When I saw the new order, I immediately pulled together our team of local Hays County elected officials, as well as our health department and our emergency management team, Alex Villalobos, Mike Jones and Tammy Crumley, to hear their concerns, issues and questions then discuss options,” County Judge Ruben Becerra said. “The majority of mayors and other elected officials were supportive but cautious. They want to be able to tell business owners they can get back to work and earning a living but recognize that if we do, the process must be deliberate and thoughtful. This is a public safety issue and our goal is to always protect public safety.”

Travis County

Judge Sam Biscoe intends to take the next several days to speak with the County Attorney’s Office and the Austin-Travis County Health Authority to decide on what’s best.

Williamson County

Judge Bill Gravell said he plans to be the first county judge in Texas to opt in.

“It is time for all of our businesses to be open to serve our public while following the governor’s health protocols to be safe,” he said. “Our county residents have shown that they can be smart and protect themselves and others, so I will be choosing for Williamson County to opt in on Oct. 14. This is another step forward for us as a community, and we can do this safely and wisely.”

This story will be updated with more counties when KVUE receives their decisions.

WATCH: Texas bars can open at 50% capacity if county judges opt in 


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