TABC: Agents are out making sure bars reopen safely this weekend

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Bars in Texas have officially reopened after being shut down for more than two months.

Greg Jasper is one of the owners of The Angry Elephant. Friday was the grand opening of their new location in Bryan.

“We had just hired a whole new staff before we opened this one, and so they never got a chance to work,” said Jasper. “They’ve been sitting there waiting and waiting and now they get to get back to work and support themselves and their families.”

The Bryan location still has the same political satire theme, but due to the pandemic, has more guidelines.

“Our staff is wearing the mask. We are practicing social distancing guidelines by closing down enough tables to keep everyone 6 feet apart, and of course staying below our occupancy levels,” said Jasper.

Some of the guidelines issued by Gov. Abbott include no large parties, no loitering near the bar, and no dancing. Customers are allowed to sit at the bar top only for meals.

At both the Bryan and College Station locations, there are signs as soon as you walk in the door, making sure you don’t have symptoms commonly tied to COVID-19, signs for social distancing, and markers on the table to keep people apart.

“If you go to a bar you will see 75% of the seating empty right now per the governor's guidelines,” said Chris Porter with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Porter says the TABC has agents around the state making sure bars are adhering to these new guidelines.

“We will have agents doing open inspections and undercover inspections throughout the state, and I think most importantly we will have agents on the ground, meeting with business owners, answering questions and helping them get back on their feet during this opening,” said Porter.

The TABC will be making sure, specifically, that bars are adhering to the guidelines with capacity. They say if a bar is repeatedly violating the guidelines, they could lose their alcohol license for 30 days.

“That’s really a last-ditch effort to ensure public safety. We want to make sure the bar owners have the knowledge they need to voluntarily comply so they can do so willingly to stay in operation while keeping their customers safe,” said Porter.

The TABC says the bar tops can be open for meals, but customers are not allowed to loiter around the area.

Jasper says he is looking forward to a time when everyone can enjoy their new space.

“Hopefully sometime in the future we will get to a point where we can get it hoppin’ in here but we are taking it step by step right now,” said Jasper.