Local bars were given the green light to reopen and operate at 50% occupancy as of Wednesday.
They’d been closed for months due to a governor’s order intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, but Gov. Greg Abbott last week issued an executive order allowing counties in low-hospitalization areas to opt into a reopening of bars. In the same order, Abbott also eased the restrictions on all other businesses, stating they could now operate at 75% customer capacity.
“Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly decided to submit the opt-in application for the bars to reopen, but only after consulting with all the local stakeholders that have helped guide major decisions throughout the COVID-19 crisis, among them the leadership at the City of Kerrville, Peterson Regional Medical Center, Kerrville and Ingram ISDs, Kerrville and Kerr County Emergency Management and others,” states an Oct. 14 press release from Kerr County.
As part of the documentation to get bars reopened, Kelly had to attest that Kerr County is in a location of the state with low hospitalizations for COVID-19 and that the county will assist the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in enforcing its regulations and the minimum standard health protocols set forth by the Texas Department of State Health Services, according to the release.
“All local stakeholders in this public health situation were consulted about the reopening of the bars,” Kelly said in the release. “All who responded to me were in agreement that this is something we should do for our community. After all, these are legitimate businesses that had been completely shut down for months and many of which are on the verge of going under. According to Texas Division of Emergency Management, all of the stakeholders in the county have managed this Covid-19 crisis extremely well, especially considering our demographics.”
The county has a high population of retired people, and according to the CDC, being older puts one at a higher risk for health complications from COVID-19.
Kelly added that this is not a “get past Go free card” for local bars.
“This is a calculated reopening of local businesses, and I expect owners, managers, and employees of these businesses to work with us on making sure they keep capacity restricted to 50% and to follow all of TABC’s rules and the state’s health standards,” Kelly said in the release.
As of Tuesday, according to the release:
Three people were hospitalized in Kerrville with COVID-19.
There were as many as 27 active COVID-19 infections in the county.
Thirteen Kerr County residents had died from the virus.
743 people had recovered from the disease.
50 cases hadn't been confirmed, but were pending further investigation by the state health department. Nine of these unconfirmed cases were reported yesterday.