CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — After more than three months, Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order to reopen bars throughout the state of Texas is set to go into effect on Wednesday, Oct. 14 — pending that county judges allow the opening process to happen.
Bars that are COVID-19 compliant will be open at a 50 percent capacity.
Dance floors at bars and similar establishments are to remain closed, and, like restaurants, all patrons must be seated while eating or drinking and must wear masks when they are not seated at a table. Other precautions include the limiting of tables to six individuals or less.
Those openings are only for Texas counties with where their percentage of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is less than 15 percent, which, according to Dr. Chris Bird of the Coronavirus Task Force, the Corpus Christi area is meeting.
According to statement from Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales, she will be reviewing the Governor’s order and meeting with officials from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), as well as local leaders throughout the area so that she can certify the county’s ability to assist in enforcing health protocols.
“This is our opportunity to continue to open our economy safely, and I intend to ensure that our bar owners understand the strict requirements and work with state, county and city agencies to comply with the letter and spirit of the law,” Canales said in the statement. “We have made tremendous progress in our infection, hospitalization and mortality rates, and I believe we can create safe protocols if we work together.”
However, many bars throughout the Coastal Bend area like Flanagan’s Downtown have indicated that they will continue operations as a restaurant amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
One bar owner — who didn’t want to do an on-camera interview — said that it made more sense financially to just maintain their restaurant license so that if bars faced another closure — they would be OK.
The House of Rock has long served as a music venue with food sales well before the pandemic. Although they will be unaffected, Matt Martinez, general manager, said he understands why some bars would be hesitant to scale back to solely alcohol sales.
“I mean, you’ve got to adapt and overcome, I guess that’s what everyone’s trying to do,” Martinez said.
When they first faced closure back in March, Martinez said his business depended on food. More specifically, takeout orders.
“That’s what kept us afloat,” he said. “That’s what kept us going. We were able to keep most of our staff employed and we started … doing everything we could to keep everything moving forward. That’s what it was all about, is progression.”
According to the Governor’s order, business establishments — other than bars — will be increased to 50 percent capacity come Oct. 14. This is to affect those bar-restaurants as well.