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Travis County judge says bars must remain closed after governor granted authority to reopen
(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe will not allow area bars to reopen, citing a recent increase in COVID-related hospitalizations in the area.

"I cannot in good conscience allow bars to reopen at 50% capacity at this time," Biscoe said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "The risk to our public health is too great, especially now that students of all ages have returned to the classroom."


Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would allow Texas bars to reopen at limited capacity, starting Wednesday, in counties that chose to opt in and where COVID patients account for no more than 15% of hospitalizations.

Biscoe referred to a memo sent by Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott on Tuesday regarding bar reopenings. In it, Escott recommended that bars remain closed for now and suggested a reevaluation of the local risk level in two weeks.

"While Travis County has been oscillating in terms of hospitalizations over the past month, the trend over the past 7-10 days creates a more concerning picture for the next month," Escott wrote in the memo.

Additionally, Texas continues to lead the country in the number of new COVID cases reported in the last week, according to a data analysis by the New York Times.

Texas Bar and Nightlife Alliance President Michael Klein issued a critical statement in response to the governor's announcement, saying he had "passed the buck" to county judges.

"(T)his is a death sentence for so many of our members under the jurisdiction of county judges who still believe that we should be locked down like we were in March and April, despite all the progress we've made coexisting with this virus," Klein said.

Other Texas county judges, however, have taken the governor up on his offer. Williamson, Hays, Burnet, Blanco, Bastrop and Caldwell counties will allow bars to reopen.

Abbott initially closed bars in March before reopening them in May. But when COVID cases surged statewide in late June, he closed them again.

Last month, Abbott announced restaurants and other businesses could increase their capacity to 75% but that bars would have to remain closed because they were "nationally recognized as COVID-spreading locations."

Some bars, however, have reopened under new Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission guidance that allows them to reclassify as restaurants if a majority of their sales come from food rather than alcohol.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway