Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order Wednesday, Oct. 7 authorizing county officials to open bars and similar establishments up to a 50% capacity in hospital regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity. The Governor’s Executive Order also increases the occupancy levels for all business establishments, other than bars, to 75%.

“Aransas County is part of the Coastal Bend Trauma Service Area (“TSA”). Because of the ongoing precautionary measures and safety procedures we have in place, our TSA has low COVID-19 related hospitalizations,” said Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills. “Therefore, I am authorizing the opening of bars and similar establishments up to a 50% occupancy, effective Wednesday, Oct. 14. “Please note, however, safety procedures and certain protocols must still be followed.”

Those procedures, as recommended by trade associations representing bars, include:

• Dance floors at bars and similar establishments must remain closed.

• Consistent with protocols for restaurants, all patrons must be seated while eating or drinking (with limited exceptions for sampling at breweries, distilleries, and wineries), and must wear masks when they are not seated at a table.

• Tables must be limited to six individuals or less, and all establishments must follow specific curfew guidelines.

“Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Abbott. “Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for additional openings, including bars. Working with industry leaders and our team of medical experts, the State of Texas has now developed strategies to safely open bars under certain health protocols. To ensure bars open safely, these openings will be done in conjunction with county officials.

“Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus. As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

Gov. Abbott released a web video with his Executive Order, encouraging Texans to continue following best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. The video can be viewed on YouTube.

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