On Friday, May 22, bars across Texas will be permitted to re-open, granted they follow certain health and safety rules. That's good news for folks looking to get back to their favorite watering hole, and there's more good news for the owners of those establishments.

Governor Greg Abbott issued an order this week allowing Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) license and permit renewals to occur after the current 30-day grace period following an expiration date without any late fees.

The waiver applies to renewals with an expiration date on or after March 13, 2020.

"As we continue to safely and strategically open the state of Texas, we want to ensure financial barriers are removed for businesses that plan to open up to the public," Gov. Abbott said Wednesday. "By granting an extended renewal period and waiving license and permit renewal late fees, we are ensuring Texas entrepreneurs and business owners are supported as we kick-start our economy and continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic."

Bars, bowling alleys, BINGO halls, and even zoos and aquariums can open Friday, though there are safety requirements they'll be asked to follow.

For all of these establishments, that means they'll only be permitted to operate at 25% of their usual customer capacity. Bars will only be permitted to serve seated customers in groups no larger than six, and patrons will be asked to sit at least six feet from other customers or groups. BINGO players will likewise be spaced out for health and safety.

All arcade areas, play areas, and interactive features will remain closed for now, so don't count on being able to play the claw machine or beat your pinball score at your favorite bar this weekend. If you go bowling, the managers at the alley will need to make sure there's at least six feet of separation between active lanes.

Rodeos, both indoor and outdoor, will be permitted beginning Friday as well, though there are health and safety rules that will need to be adhered to.

Things may be beginning to open up, but we're not out of the COVID-19 woods yet. While we go on living and getting back to normal, it's important to remember that the virus hasn't vanished, so any steps we can take to protect ourselves and our neighbors should be taken. Keep your distance when possible, keep those hands clean, and wear a mask whenever possible. It's just common courtesy.

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