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Local bar owners plan to protest shutdown Tuesday

HOUSTON – Some members of the Houston area bar industry are heading to the state capital on Tuesday to protest the governor’s recent shutdown order.

Promoter Charlie Diggs, who lives in Grimes County, said he’s traveling to Austin with a simple message.

“Open back up Texas bars. There’s no way we’re going to survive without it,” Diggs said in a FaceTime interview.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered many bars closed on Friday because of a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

Diggs believes the recent protests related to George Floyd’s death should get more blame for the spike than bars. He feels the bar industry was unfairly singled out.

“We’ve seen businesses after businesses fall from this and doing this is going to cause even more to fall,” Diggs said.

The governor said his decision was based on data.

“So many people who were testing positive for COVID-19, they were contracting it in bar type settings, and that’s exactly why we had to take the action about bars that we did,” Abbott said.

The protest is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the capitol.

Shawn Outlaw, owner of the Capitol Bar Midtown, said he supports the protest even though he cannot attend. He said his bar took steps to protect customers, from masks to placing markers on the ground where people should stand.

“We have a lot of people that work here that depend on us and it’s not just the bartenders. It’s the wait staff, it’s the barbacks, it’s the DJs,” Outlaw said.

Diggs is asking people who attend the protest to wear masks and practice social distancing.