AUSTIN, TX – A weeklong effort by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce the state’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols resulted in emergency orders to suspend the liquor licenses of six businesses. As part of Operation Safe Open, agents inspected businesses across Texas to ensure they’re following state standards to slow the spread of the virus. These requirements include indoor customer capacity limits of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants, along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers. Agents conducted 1,344 inspections over the last week.
“These violations represent a very small number of the more than 20,000 licensed businesses inspected by TABC since the beginning of May,” TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly said. “A large majority of business owners are showing their commitment to keeping customers and employees safe, and we’re grateful for all of their hard work. TABC is committed to assisting the industry as we all work for a safe Texas.”
“Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “I’m incredibly proud of all the TABC employees working to ensure Texas bars and restaurants are able to operate safely. Our goal from the start has been to educate business owners about the requirements of the governor’s executive orders, and our Enforcement, Legal and Communications teams have done outstanding work to keep the industry and the public informed on how to stay safe while helping to reopen the Texas economy.”
The businesses issued an emergency order for a 30-day permit suspension are:
- Ampersand — Fort Worth (Bledsoe Street)
- Lux Lounge — Houston
- The Whippersnapper — Dallas
- The Standard — Houston
- Spire — Houston
- Sol Billares — Houston
TABC is strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity and will pursue emergency license suspensions if there are violations that threaten public health and safety. TABC has the authority to suspend any license that poses a continuing threat to public welfare. The first infraction may result in up to a 30-day license suspension, and the second may result in up to a 60-day suspension.
Content provided by TABC Texas | Press Release | Chris Porter
This violation will be Spire’s second strike since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In June, TABC suspended the club’s license after viral video footage displayed a crowded club. A representative for Spire owner the Clé Group has not released a statement regarding the situation.
Governor Greg Abbott recently okayed the reopenings at 50-percent capacity beginning October 14. However, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo declined the notion to allow bars to reopen. Many establishments have been seen taking advantage of the TABC rules that allow them to operate as restaurants.
In June, four Houston-area bars — HandleBar, BARge 295, Prospect Park, and Bokeeters Cocktail Bar all had their licenses suspended.