AUSTIN, Texas - One day after Gov. Greg Abbott announced a pause on his plan to reopen Texas, he has ordered the closure of bars in an effort to stop the surge of COVID-19 in our state.
Friday's order also scales back restaurants' dine-in capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent on Monday.
Friday night on Sixth Street hasn't been this quiet since bars were allowed to reopen at a limited capacity a month ago. Boards are back up again, just like they were when they first shut down, all because of the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
"It sucks," Rustic Tap operating partner Brett Berry said. "It's not fun for any of us. I'm really feeling it for our staff, guys who just got off unemployment now having to go back on. Last time we talked, we were just starting to get open. That was Memorial Day weekend."
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Bars were allowed to reopen a month ago as long as employees followed COVID-19 safety precautions, but with the rise in cases, Abbott issued an executive order to shut down several establishments, including bars.
"Obviously frustrating, but I understand if we're at 97%, like we're reporting ventilators in Austin, when we have a couple left," Berry said. "You know, that's when it gets dangerous. And we have to watch our levels."
Berry said business wasn't bad when they were allowed to be open, but with this order, he says he hopes everyone learns from this experience. "It's a really good time for us as bar owners, restaurant, TABC, health department to get together and say, Alright, what worked, what didn't?"
For now, bars like Rustic Tap will keep rolling with the punches until the number of new COVID-19 cases dramatically drops. "We're dealing with this every day like everybody else. We just have to watch the numbers, listen to the experts, and be cautious about how we reopen this next time," Berry said.
Abbott's order still allows bars to offer delivery and take-out, including alcoholic beverages. However, according to TABC guidelines, alcohol must be sold with food, which isn't an option for some bars which mainly sell liquor.
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