West Texas City Refuses to Enforce Governor’s New Coronavirus Order on Bar Closures

AUSTIN, TX - MAY 24: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a roundtable discussion with victims, family, and friends affected by the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting at the state capital on May 24, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Representatives from Sutherland Springs, Alpine, and Killeen were also invited and address the …
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Abilene, Texas, officials announced they will not enforce Governor Greg Abbott’s new Coronavirus order, which calls for the closure of bars and reduces allowable restaurant capacity amid an increase in new cases.

Governor Abbott ordered all bars closed effective noon local time Friday, June 26. The executive action also requires restaurants operating at 75 percent capacity to return to 50 percent beginning the following Monday. Outdoor public gatherings will also be capped at 100 and leaves local authorities to decide if capacity may be increased.

Shortly after bars were ordered closed Friday, Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna stated the City will “not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, but we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can,” according to a statement published by KCBD.

The city manager urged residents to use common sense in regard to the use of masks and social distancing. The City will not be enforcing a mask rule locally, according to the statement.

“[I]f you choose to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask, respect those that do and avoid antagonizing folks or standing or walking within six feet of them,” Hanna said.

Abilene officials will rely on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce the new order on bars.

Ten days ago, Texas was recording an average of 1,200 new cases per day. On Thursday, that figure rose to nearly 5,600.

Hanna clarified that scheduled public events in June and July are expected to proceed as planned, unless local COVID-19 statistics worsen to where the City is forced to issue cancellations. In the meantime, municipal officials will rely on local residents to police themselves.

“Basically, be kind to one another and look out for each other–pretty simple rules to live by,” Hanna added.

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