"It is time to open them up," Abbott said in the announcement. "Initially, they can open at a 50% capacity provided that they follow the safety protocols. If we continue to contain [COVID-19], then the openings, just like other businesses, should be able to expand in the near future."
Facial coverings must be worn by bar employees and bar patrons when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained or when seated to eat or drink, according to health protocols released by the Abbott's office Oct. 7. Additionally, outdoor bars will not be subject to an occupancy limit.
"Like before, to ensure that hospital capacity for [COVID-19] patients is maintained, these expansions apply only in the hospital regions where [COVID-19] hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity," Abbott said. "To ensure that these businesses open safely and to help enforce the health protocols, these openings will be done in conjunction with county officials."
According to Abbott, county judges will be able to opt in their counties to the new openings and will be subject to enforcing the safety protocols.
River tubing operations may also open and operate at 50% capacity, according to the announcement. Additionally, businesses currently operating at 50% capacity may now expand to 75% capacity. This includes business such as amusement parks, fine arts performance halls and movie theaters, among others.