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Gov. Abbott issued an executive order to open bars up to 50% capacity in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalization rates. In Trauma Service Areas where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity, county judges may authorize the opening of bars by Oct. 14. As of Oct. 6, Hays County meets this requirement.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Oct. 7 allowing for certain county judges to open bars in their counties and raise the occupancy levels for all businesses other than bars to 75%.

In hospital regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacities, county judges will be able to opt their county into reopening bars at 50% capacity and expand business occupancy levels beginning Oct. 14, provided they assist in enforcing health protocols. As of Oct. 6, Hays County is not on the Texas Department of Health Services list showing counties with high COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued a statement saying a decision to reopen bars is yet to be made.

“We will be reaching out to all local officials to ensure we are considering all aspects of this change before we make any public comments on the direction of the county," Becerra said. "It is imperative that we take precaution and make all efforts to ensure that our decision is made in the best interest of our community.”

Some mandated health protocols for reopened bars include: All customers must be seated while eating or drinking and all employees and customers must wear a face covering (over the nose and mouth) wherever it is not feasible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing from another individual not in the same household, except when seated at the bar or similar establishment to eat or drink. 

Additionally, as recommended by trade associations representing bars, dance floors at bars and similar establishments must remain closed, tables must be limited to six individuals or less and all establishments must follow specific curfew guidelines. The full list of minimum requirements for reopened bars can be viewed on the Office of the Governor website.

The University Star will update this story with additional information as it is made available.

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