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Is Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Going to Reopen Bars?

The Statesman nixes its annual dining guide, plus more news

Beer taps at an Austin bar
Beer taps at an Austin bar
Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

Are Texas Bars Going to Reopen?
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appears to suggest that bars throughout the state might reopen soon. On Monday, the governor tweeted that the COVID-19 numbers in the state (cases, hospitalizations, and the positivity rate) “remain contained,” that yesterday had been the “lowest” day for deaths due to the virus, and that he will announcing further business openings soon, all accompanied with a gif of two people cheers-ing with beer.

Texas’s positivity rate is just above seven percent, according to the John Hopkins’s Coronavirus Resource Center. While the number of deaths due to the virus have declined since the previous week, as reported by the Texas Tribune on October 5, the number of cases and hospitalizations have still increased during that time.

In mid-September, Gov. Abbott expanded the restaurant dining room capacity limits to 75 percent, based on a new metric where the hospitalizations in each region have to remain less than 15 percent for a week. He also noted that, “because bars are nationally recognized as COVID spreading locations,” they had to remain closed at the time.

Currently, bars, breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the state that make more than 51 percent of their sales from alcohol have to stay closed. However, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission issued some loopholes allowing those businesses to apply for food and beverage permits if they expand on-site food options (kitchens, food truck, prepackaged foods) and nix to-go sales from their calculations, thereby designating them as restaurants.

No Austin Dining Guide for 2020
The annual Statesman dining guide has been nixed for the year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Local restaurant critic Matthew Odam did note that: “So, you want to know which restaurant I think is the best in town? Every single one of them,” because of the struggles these businesses have faced. In lieu of the ranked list, he wrote about how restaurants have pivoted, from switching to markets, shifted to or opened casual counterparts, opening a meal kit delivery service, to still opening new businesses. He also interviewed a bunch of restaurant owners, chefs, and operators, from Asia Market’s Eric Yi to El Naranjo’s Iliana de la Vega to Slab BBQ’s Raf Robinson to Baby Greens’s Sharon Mays. He also wrote a very lengthy list of the dining experiences that he misses during these socially distanced times.

Forthcoming Cave Beer
San Marcos brewery Roughhouse Brewing is going to barrel-age a beer in a limestone cave, as reported by the San Antonio Current. The beer is in collaboration with Hill Country brewery Jester King, as part of their Underground beer series.

Impending Venue Shutter
South Austin event venue Mercury Hall will close in January 2022, as reported by Community Impact. The 615 Cardinal Lane address in the Galindo neighborhood is being developed into an apartment complex.

Roughhouse Brewing

680 Oakwood Loop, , TX 78666 (512) 667-7000 Visit Website

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