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At Least Three Central Texas Counties Plan To Let Bars Reopen At Limited Capacity Next Week

A bar on Sixth Street in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that bars can open at 50% capacity starting Wednesday in counties where the county judge approves.

A group representing bar and nightclub owners is angry over Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to allow bars to reopen because Abbott left the decision to county judges in each of the state’s 254 counties.  

“A lot of our membership comprises the more urban, densely populated counties in the state of Texas," the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance President Michael Klein said. "The usual suspects of county judges that we all could have guessed have all said no.” 

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe has not made a decision on whether bars can reopen at 50% capacity. He said he’s consulting with the county attorney’s office and local public health authorities. Hays County officials are also still contemplating a decision.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell is ready to let bars open at 50% capacity next Wednesday. 

“We’re testing well. People are staying well. And what really plays into my decision is I trust the people of Williamson County to make the decision," Gravell said.

The county judges in Bastrop and Burnet counties also plan to allow bars to reopen next week. Burnet County Judge James Oakley said his county has only a handful of standalone bars, mostly in Marble Falls.

"My general philosophy is I'm a bit of a laissez faire type leadership," Oakley said. "Let businesses do what they want to do, but make sure they they've got some good protocols in place for as much safeguard as possible."

There’s no decision yet from Blanco County Judge Brett Bray.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission plans to continue health and safety inspections of bars at rate of 1,000 to 1,500 per week, according to TABC spokesperson Chris Porter.

"What we'll be doing is to ensure that businesses are able to comply with the rules that have been put in place," Porter said.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Bernier at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.

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Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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