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TABC shuts down Texas bars for not following COVID-19 orders after undercover sting

TABC said the undercover operation revealed the Houston-area bars were not following social-distancing measures.

HOUSTON — Two Houston-area bars and 15 others across Texas had their permits suspended for 30 days after undercover operations determined the bars were not operating safely.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended the permits for Handlebar Houston and BARge 25 in Seabrook after they said they were not following protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “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.”

The owner of BARge 25 said they'll stay open while they appeal the shutdown. 

"To be clear. We have had zero reported cases from our staff or customers. We have not been shut down. We have been issued a temporary liquor license suspension, which we will fight. Our establishment and kitchen is still open. We will adjust. We will protest and we will defend our rights. We will be closed Monday and Tuesday as previously stated to put in new transformers and power Main. We will reopen Wednesday for all Texans and red blooded Americans!! This ... needs to end now. Come out and support local businesses."

Operation Safe Open is being run by TABC to ensure the bars are following requirements including indoor customer capacity limits of 50% and social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers.

"So, anytime we see a situation where there's an obvious violation of their capacity limit, or an obvious case where people are not observing social distancing requirements, that’s when we're gonna be forced to take action," TABC's Chris Porter said.

Here are the 17 Texas bars that have had their permits suspended:

  • Handlebar Houston, Houston 
  • BARge 25, Seabrook
  • Harris House of Heroes, Dallas
  • The New PR’s, Fort Worth
  • UnBARlievable (West 6th), Austin
  • Little Woodrow’s, Lubbock
  • Coconuts, El Paso
  • Buford’s Backyard Beer Garden, Austin
  • Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot Icehouse, Austin
  • Werk Bar, El Paso
  • Marty’s Live, Dallas
  • Elevate Night Club, McAllen

RELATED: ‘We are moving in the wrong direction’ | Houston sees a 'significant' increase in COVID-19 cases in June

RELATED: Gov. Abbott says 'tougher actions will be required' if COVID-19 case counts continue climb

RELATED: Galveston mayor issues emergency mask order for business employees, customers

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