After months of bar owners facing an uncertain future, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that will allow them to open their doors next week as long as certain health and safety protocols are followed.

Under the order, bars will be able to open back up at 50% capacity on Wednesday, October 14 if the COVID-19 hospitalization rate in their county is less than 15% of hospital capacity. County judges will need to opt their counties in, and will be responsible for helping enforce health protocols.

Bars that reopen will be expected to operate with the same seating and physical distancing requirements as restaurants. The Governor's Office has released a Minimum Standard Health Protocols checklist for bars, which you can read here. They've also released a checklist for bar patrons, which can be found here.

Here's the gist: Customers will need to be seated when eating or drinking (with limited exceptions for sampling at breweries, distilleries, and wineries), and must wear a mask when they're not seated. Tables will be limited to six or less people at a time.

"Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19," Governor Abbott said Wednesday. "Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus. As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

In addition to bars reopening, businesses that have already reopened at 50% capacity can expand to 75% capacity beginning October 14, but again, that only applies to counties where COVID-19 hospitalizations are at less than 15% of hospital capacity.

Hopefully this is the first step in getting many business owners and employees back to doing the work they love. So many bar owners have been anxiously awaiting this day, and we wish them all the best of luck as they open up for thirsty customers.

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