Abbott: counties can reopen bars

Texas Governor Greg Abbott discusses Executive Order GA-32. Screen grab from YouTube.

By Gaige Davila

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday that bars may reopen across the state at 50% capacity in a new executive order.

On Oct. 14, Texas bars can reopen at 50% capacity across the state, if counties choose to “opt in” to the order and enforce the protocols. Outdoor bars have no capacity limits. 

“It is time to open them up,” Abbott said in a YouTube video posted from the Governor’s Office. “If we continue to contain COVID, then these openings, just like other businesses, should be able to expand in the near future.”

All patrons in a bar will have to be seated, according to the executive order.

Abbott had alluded to reopening bars in a Twitter post on Oct. 5, saying he would be “announcing more openings soon,” accompanying the post with a GIF of clinking beer mugs.  

Bars like Boomerang Billy’s, the Coral Reef, Harry’s Bar and Wanna Wanna Beach Bar and Grill had been closed for over 100 days, South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty said in a Facebook post. 

“They all need our business to help them get back on their feet,” said McNulty. 

Colleen Beumel, manager of the Coral Reef, will be reopening the South Padre Island karaoke bar on Oct. 14.

“I am super excited to finally be given the green light to open,” Beumel said to the PRESS. “Being allowed to reopen means so much to us.”

Beumel said the Coral Reef had been closed for 168 days total after Abbott ordered bars to close in March and June. Though the closure poses a challenge for the bars reopening, Beumel is confident they will. 

“We have wonderful customers and I have a great staff that will make this reopening happen,” she said. 

The Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance’s president, Michael Klein, said Abbott’s order was moving leadership responsibilities away from him and to county judges. 

“This is a death sentence for so many of our members under the jurisdiction of county judges who still believe that we should be locked down like we were in March and April,” Klein said in the release. 

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño told the PRESS he has not decided whether to allow bars to reopen in the county.

“I haven’t made a decision yet as we need to review the Governor’s Order in more depth,” Treviño said. 

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