Hundreds of Texas bar owners pledge defiance to Abbott order

Bars ordered to close after coronavirus case surge

FORT WORTH, Texas — Hundreds of Texas bar owners say they’ll defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate that ordered them closed after a surge in coronavirus cases.

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Fort Worth bar owner Chris Polone has organized what’s labeled as “Freedom Fest,” in which hundreds of bar owners say they’ll open their doors and set ’em up Saturday. About 800 bar owners have promised participation, Polone told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which could place their state liquor licenses in jeopardy.

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The Republican governor had allowed bars to reopen with restrictions, only to order them closed again on June 26 after the state experienced a resurgent outbreak in the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bars must adhere to safety measures that include taking customers' temperatures before entering, maintaining social distancing, requiring face coverings and having hand sanitizer available, Polone said. He said he plans to use a germicide approved by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to fog his place.

In this June 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott adjusts his mask after speaking in Austin, Texas. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

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Participants will charge a $10 cover charge, the proceeds of which will go to a charity of the bar owner's choice, Polone said.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is aware of the event and will be conducting inspections, said commission spokesman Chris Porter. Violators of the order could face a 30-day suspension of their liquor license.

Visitors, some wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, walk through downtown San Antonio, Monday, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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The commission already has suspended the license for Polone's place, The Rail Club Live, after a July 4 protest of governor's order, which he called the Rail Club Tea Party. A hearing on that suspension is set for Monday.

Other venues may choose to serve alcoholic beverages, but Polone said his place will not.

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