Fort Bend County Judge KP George has allowed bars in the county to reopen at 50% capacity on Tuesday as the county continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

George was cautiously optimistic that bars in the county will work to maintain mask wearing and social distancing so that Fort Bend County can continue to keep coronavirus cases low in the county.

“Our survey of bar owners showed an overwhelming interest (in reopening),” George said during Tuesday’s commissioners’ court meeting. “They will be responsible and they will implement the state’s department of health services’ guidelines in their establishments.”

This comes after Gov. Greg Abbott signed an order allowing county officials to determine to reopen bars across the state. Several counties in the Houston area have decided to open bars at 50% capacity, except for Harris County, which has decided to keep bars closed until further notice.

George also said that the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services department would also work with bars in the county to communicate the guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Bars, clubs and other drinking establishments were closed in mid-March by Abbott in hopes of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Establishments that sold alcoholic drinks were allowed to reopen in May as long as more than 50% of their business was from food.

Even then, those establishments were allowed only 25% capacity.

Later, the capacity was increased to 50%.

Last month, Abbott increased the capacity to 75%, but did not reopen establishments that served mostly alcoholic drinks.

George did warn that if coronavirus cases did go back up to a high level, he would shut down bars again to lower the spread.

“This is not the time to let our guard down,” George said. “My message to all of our bar owners and customers is be safe, be smart and don’t mess it up.”

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