On Monday, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced plans to reopen bars across the state and increase the capacity limits implemented on restaurant dining rooms.
Abbott laid out the second phase of his Open Texas plan in a press conference on Monday after sharing details on the state’s plans to increase COVID-19 testing across the state of Texas. It’s big news, especially for bars, which have been closed since Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins issued the shutdown order on March 16.
Under the new order, bars, wine tasting rooms, breweries, and other alcohol-oriented establishments can reopen their doors at 25 percent capacity on May 22. Restaurants will be allowed to increase their interior capacity from 25 percent occupancy to 50 percent, as defined on the restaurant’s certificate of occupancy. Abbott also clarified that these guidelines do not apply to exterior dining spaces like patios, as long as tables are spaced six feet apart.
“Our goal is to find ways to coexist with COVID-19 as safely as possible,” Abbott said during the press conference. “That includes safe social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing hands. It’s a fact that these safe practices save lives.” Notably, the state of Texas does not require the wearing of masks in public places, and has barred municipalities from implementing legal requirements in excess of the state’s rules.