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TABC suspends 2 Houston-area bars for not following safe COVID-19 policies

TABC suspends 2 Houston bars for not following COVID-19 policies

Barge 295 Seabook
BARge 295 vowed to fight its license suspension. Courtesy of BARge 295

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has suspended a dozen bars across Texas, part of an initiative to make sure bars are observing best practices to curb coronavirus.

That includes two bars in the Houston area.

The program is called Operation Safe Open and is an effort by TABC agents to ensure that businesses across Texas are following protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those include capacity limits of 50 percent indoors for bars and 75 percent for restaurants, along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers.

TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles says in a release that they're going with zero tolerance.

"Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority," Nettles says. "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."

Business are handed a 30-day suspension of their permit to serve alcohol.

Houston-area bars cited include:

  • HandleBar, a popular club on Washington Avenue
  • BARge 295, a floating bar in Seabrook

In a Facebook post, BARge 295 said it would remain open and fight the TABC's decision. "We will protest, and we will defend our rights," it reads in part.

TABC's roundup included two bars in Dallas, three bars in Austin, as well as bars in Fort Worth, Lubbock and El Paso, as follows:

Austin: UnBARlievable (West 6th), Buford's Backyard Beer Garden, Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot Icehouse

Dallas: Harris House of Heroes, Marty's Live

El Paso: Coconuts, Werk Bar

Fort Worth: New PR's, aka PR's Saloon

Lubbock: Little Woodrow's

McAllen: Elevate Night Club

Seabrook: BARge 25

TABC says that it is strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity and will pursue emergency license suspensions if it finds violations.

The first infraction results in up to a 30-day license suspension. The second will result in up to a 60-day suspension.

They began enforcement on June 19, when they inspected more than 200 establishments. In the past month, agents have inspected more than 3,000 locations across the state.