Houston bars will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity this Friday, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced at a press conference on Monday. Bars and restaurants in Houston were initially closed on March 16, and bars have struggled since then as they remained shuttered while restaurants were allowed to reopen.
At Monday’s press conference, Abbott added a new list of businesses to Phase 2 of his Open Texas Plan. Abbott also announced on Monday that restaurants may increase indoor capacity to 50%. Bars will be required to physically block off seats at the bar and tables inside to ensure that appropriate social distancing can happen.
Restaurants and bars with patios will not need to limit capacity outdoors so long as social distancing recommendations requiring at least six feet between parties is maintained. Gyms, child care centers and personal care facilities and beauty salons were already included in the phase.
“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.”
The next phase applies to all but five Texas counties — El Paso, Potter, Randall, Moore and Smith. Those counties have seen coronavirus outbreak hotspots, especially Potter County, where outbreaks at meatpacking plants near Amarillo have contributed to an increase in meat prices throughout the country.
Along with bars, other entertainment-based businesses will be allowed to reopen Friday, including bowling alleys, aquariums, zoos, bingo halls and skating rinks.