HOUSTON – Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that bars and breweries will finally be able to reopen Friday as part of the second phase of reopening Texas businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Reopening bars has been a hotly debated issue with Texans and bar owners calling for the state to allow them to reopen. Earlier this month, some bar owners even took to protesting outside the Texas Capitol, demanding the right to reopen.
As a stop-gap measure, Abbott had previously allowed alcohol to-go orders when restaurants were first closed during the coronavirus pandemic. When he didn’t allow bars to reopen during the first phase of reopening, he said he might even allow the delivery and takeout options for alcohol to become a permanent thing.
In early May, when Abbott announced the first phase of reopening, he explained his reasoning for not reopening bars as he did restaurants.
“Bars are another area that we want to open because we know the customers like it, but we also want to open up because the bar owners desperately need it to provide some level of income, for them to pay their bills,” Abbott said in a press conference on May 5. “But the fact is we are still working on safe ways to establish safe distancing at bars.”
Since then, Abbott has changed his stance and said he will now allow bars, breweries and wine tasting rooms to reopen at 25% capacity beginning Friday, May 22. The capacity limits won’t apply to outdoor areas so long as people can maintain safe distancing.