Since May 22, Texas bars have been allowed to operate in Texas, given that they follow certain restrictions and guidelines.
For example, in addition to restrictions on capacity, currently set at 50 percent, bars must also abide by guidelines encouraging social distancing and mask-wearing by employees as well as discouraging dancing and placing orders directly at the counter.
All of these restrictions come as part of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, which created and continuously updated guidelines on a phased approach to open businesses in the wake of shutdowns due to the Chinese coronavirus.
Last week, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission—the state agency that oversees and grants liquor licenses to establishments—announced they would be embarking with heightened enforcement over the weekend, in a project entitled “Operation Safe Open.”
Over the weekend, the agency shut down 12 bars in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Lubbock, and El Paso for various violations of reopening guidelines, including overcapacity and lack of social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers.
Their liquor licenses have been suspended for 30 days, a serious blow to an industry already suffering major losses after over two months of closure.
“Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “We warned businesses TABC will have no tolerance for breaking the rules, and now, some bars are paying the price. I hope other establishments will learn from these suspensions.”
TABC warns that a second infraction will result in a suspension of up to 60 days.