GALVESTON COUNTY – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry celebrated Wednesday the reopening of bars with locals. He hosted a happy hour at Buccaneer Bar at Railean Rum Distillery in San Leon.
Kelly Railean, the owner of Railean Distillery and Buccaneer Bar, said the past seven months have been tough because of COVID-19.
“It’s been terrible," she said. "It’s been the worst experience of my life stressful. It’s been bad.”
Gov. Greg Abbott gave bars in the state the “green light” to reopen if the county’s rate of hospitalizations is below 15% percent. Abbott said county judges must opt into these opening and assist in enforcing health protocols.
Judge Henry noted the plight the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on bars.
“They had all these bills to pay. They had to pay their rent, be evicted or foreclosed. How are they supposed to pay for that with no income?” he said.
According to the guidelines, bars must remain at 50% capacity and practice social distancing guidelines.
“We hope that they can make ends meet at 50 percent," Henry said. " We really hope people will go back to their habits (that) they had eight months ago, supporting their local small businesses."
Railean said the support has helped her along the way.
“A lot of these folks have been coming out just to say, ‘Hi.’ See if we are still here. See if we were able to reopen and ask if we needed anything. It’s been really amazing,” she said.
All bars in Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties will reopen. While Harris County is the only local county not allowing bars to reopen.