Navarro County Judge H.M. Davenport announced that the county has opted in to Gov. Greg Abbott's directives allowing for bars to reopen in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Gov. Abbott issued an executive order Oct. 7, which allowed local officials in counties where COVID-19 hospitalizations make up less than 15% to allow bars and similar establishments to reopen at 50% capacity as of Oct. 14, provided they assist in enforcing health protocols.

After receiving updated information regarding the percentage of cases admitted to Navarro Regional Hospital, which are now within acceptable limits set forth in the governor's orders, Davenport contacted the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and "opted in."

The current TABC Map of Texas Counties currently shows Navarro County "in the green" with surrounding counties.

Under these guidelines, bars or similar establishments are those with a permit from TABC that are not otherwise considered restaurants.

Counties that have opted in may operate for in-person service up to 50% of the total listed occupancy inside the bar, but all customers must be seated while eating or drinking. There is no occupancy limit outdoors and employees are not counted toward the occupancy limitation.

Bars must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. daily. All employees and customers must wear a face covering over the nose and mouth wherever it is not possible to maintain six feet distancing from another individual not in the same household, except when seated to eat or drink.

The Governor's Strike Force to Open Texas has laid out the minimum recommended health protocols for all bars and their patrons. For the full list of recommendations, visit open.texas.gov.

These establishments may also adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all employees, contractors, and customers.

"Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19," Abbott said. "Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for additional openings, including bars.

The governor praised the cooperation of industry leaders and medical experts to develop strategies allowing for these and other businesses to open and operate safely.

“Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus,” he 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."

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