Crowded Texas Bars Suspended For Violating Rules as COVID-19 Cases Spike

As coronavirus cases in Texas approach nearly 113,000, several bars in Houston, Austin and Dallas were suspended for violating safety restrictions, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) confirmed.

The alcohol permits of 12 bars across the state have been suspended for 30 days following an undercover investigation of bars in Texas conducted by TABC agents "to ensure they're following protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19," the TABC confirmed in a statement Sunday.

The protocols include indoor capacity limits of 50 percent for bars and 75 percent for restaurants, while a distance of at least six feet must be maintained among patrons, the TABC noted.

"Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority," TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles noted in the statement.

"We warned businesses TABC will have no tolerance for breaking the rules, and now, some bars are paying the price. I hope other establishments will learn from these suspensions," Nettles added.

The suspensions come just days after the TABC announced it would be strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity.

"If the agency observes a business clearly disregarding the checklist protocols, it will take swift action to suspend that business's license for up to 30 days for the first infraction and up to 60 days for the second infraction," the TABC warned on June 17.

Bars in Texas that have been suspended

(as of June 21)

  • Handlebar Houston in Houston
  • BARge 25 in Seabrook
  • Harris House of Heroes in Dallas
  • The New PR's in Fort Worth
  • UnBARlievable (West 6th) in Austin
  • Little Woodrow's in Lubbock
  • Coconuts in El Paso
  • Buford's Backyard Beer Garden in Austin
  • Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot Icehouse in Austin
  • Werk Bar in El Paso
  • Marty's Live in Dallas
  • Elevate Night Club in McAllen

Last week, a host of reopened bars and restaurants in the Houston area were temporarily shut down after several employees tested positive for the virus.

Earlier this month, a health official in Texas warned that parts of the state, including San Antonio, are seeing "a very large increase" in cases and "we are entering a second wave."

The percentage of positive tests in Texas has been on a mostly increasing trend from around May 18, when the state began the second phase of its reopening. The positive test rate reported on June 20 (8.8 percent) was nearly double the rate reported May 18 (4.47 percent), according to the latest figures from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

coronavirus Texas bartender Houston bar May 2020
A bartender serving drinks at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On June 20, Texas also saw the highest daily case count since the outbreak began, with nearly 4,200 new infections reported. The previous record was set just a day earlier with nearly 4,100 new cases, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The number of COVID-19 patient hospitalizations has also been on an increasing trend from the day after Memorial Day. The state reported 3,409 hospitalizations on Sunday, more than double the 1,534 hospitalizations reported May 26, according to the latest data from the Texas DSHS.

The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, has spread to more than 8.9 million people across the globe, including over 2.2 million in the U.S. More than 4.4 million globally have reportedly recovered from infection, while over 468,300 have died, as of Wednesday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the worst-affected countries.

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The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the percentage of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, ICU (intensive care unit) admissions and deaths in the U.S.

hospitalizations, ICU admissions, deaths U.S. COVID-19 cases
Hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths among U.S. COVID-19 patients. STATISTA