Jun 27, 2020 - Health

Texas governor regrets opening bars during coronavirus pandemic

An empty bar in Texs with bar stools stacked on top of each other

Photo: Sergio Flores/AFP/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, "If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars," as he observes the "aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread..." in a radio interview on Friday cited by The Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: Texas has seen a recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases as the state moved toward reopening, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Abbott allowed bars to reopen starting May 22, at 25% indoor capacity. His shift in tone could be one of many as other states also experience case count spikes and a possible second wave.

  • The uptick in cases prompted Abbott to announce on Friday that all bars in Texas will close and restaurants must decrease capacity from 75% to 50%.
  • There are over 140,000 confirmed cases in Texas, per Johns Hopkins University.
  • Still, Abbott has not implemented a statewide mask mandate.

What he's saying: Abbott said a "bar setting, in reality, just doesn't work with a pandemic," adding that people "go to bars to get close and to drink and to socialize, and that's the kind of thing that stokes the spread of the coronavirus."

The other side: Bar owners in Texas have expressed concern over the safety of their employees and how their businesses will fare amid the COVID-19 fallout, AP reports.

  • Sean Kennedy, a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, said his organization told officials that the hospitality industry is “just looking for consistency, transparency and forward-looking rules.”
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