Kerr County drinking establishments have been given the “green light” to reopen to half-capacity today, Oct. 14, as part of the state’s reopening in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic closures.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had issued an executive order a week ago on Oct. 7 that paved the way for bars and similar establishments throughout the state in low hospitalization areas to be opened to 50 percent capacity starting Oct. 14 at the discretionary authority of county officials.
Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly decided to submit the opt-in application for the bars to reopen, but only after consulting with all the local stakeholders that have helped guide major decisions throughout the COVID-19 crisis, among them the leadership at the City of Kerrville, Peterson Regional Medical Center, Kerrville and Ingram ISDs, Kerrville and Kerr County Emergency Management and others.
“All local stakeholders in this public health situation were consulted about the reopening of the bars,” Kelly said. “All who responded to me were in agreement that this is something we should do for our community. After all, these are legitimate businesses that had been completely shut down for months and many of which are on the verge of going under. According to Texas Division of Emergency Management, all of the stakeholders in the county have managed this Covid-19 crisis extremely well, especially considering our demographics.”
Kelly filled out the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s website form late Tuesday and they verified and approved it earlier today. As part of the documentation, he had to attest that Kerr County is in a location of the state with low hospitalizations for COVID-19 and that the county will assist TABC’s enforcement of its regulations and the minimum standard health protocols set forth by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“I’d like everyone to realize that this is not a ‘get past Go free’ card for local bars,” Kelly said. “This is a calculated reopening of local businesses, and I expect owners, managers, and employees of these businesses to work with us on making sure they keep capacity restricted to 50 percent and to follow all of TABC’s rules and the state’s health standards.”
In the same order last week, the governor also eased the restrictions on all other businesses, stating they could now operate at 75 percent customer capacity.
“Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said at the time. Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for expanded operations in businesses and the opening of bars, he added. However, to be sure the bars open safely, their openings were to be done in conjunction with county officials.
“Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus,” Gov. Abbott said. “As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
On Tuesday, 3 people were hospitalized in Kerrville at Peterson Regional Medical Center receiving treatment for COVID-19, while the DSHS Region 8 update also stated there were 27 cases of active infection in the county, according to Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William B. “Dub” Thomas.
The county has lost 13 residents to the novel coronavirus, but has seen 743 persons recover from it. Additionally, awaiting DSHS investigation are 50 people in the “to be determined” column -- 9 of which are new cases that were reported yesterday.