Texas Supreme Court blocks order to close dine-in service early at all Travis County bars

A Jan. 1 ruling from the Texas Supreme Court stopped local orders that would have closed all dine-in service at bars and restaurants after 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.
A Jan. 1 ruling from the Texas Supreme Court stopped local orders that would have closed all dine-in service at bars and restaurants after 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.

A Jan. 1 ruling from the Texas Supreme Court stopped local orders that would have closed all dine-in service at bars and restaurants after 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.

A local order issued by Austin and Travis County health authorities forced bars and restaurants to close down in-person dining service early on New Year’s Eve and offer only curbside or takeout service after 10:30 p.m.

Local officials put that order in place throughout the weekend, including Jan. 1 and Jan. 2. However, after a legal challenge from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling Jan. 1 that will block further enforcement of the order.

In a statement Jan. 1 as his office brought the appeal to the state Supreme Court, Paxton said state orders override the actions of the local authorities.

“We cannot have local declarations conflicting with Gov. Abbott’s clear order,” Paxton said in the release.

After the Supreme Court’s decision, Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he was disappointed by the news.

“I continue to encourage everyone in Travis County to celebrate and eat safely at home until our overall COVID-19 numbers have decreased. I also would ask everyone to consider supporting local restaurants by ordering food for takeout as I did with my family last night,” Brown said in a release.


Austin and Travis County are at Stage 5, the highest risk level, under local COVID-19 guidelines. Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 1, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 30 to 68.1. As of Dec. 30, according to a the area’s three major hospital systems, the 2,473 hospital beds in the Austin area ae 78% occupied and the 483 Intensive Care Unit beds are 85% occupied.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


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