TABC to resume "Operation Safe Open", checking up on bars' COVID-19 compliance

Talk 1370 Newsroom
June 25, 2020 - 8:19 am
Beer pint

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Undercover agents will again be checking up on bars and restaurants across the state to make sure they're complying with the state's COVID-19 guidelines this weekend.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says its "Operation Safe Open" undercover effort will resume Thursday and continue through Sunday.

Last weekend, TABC agents visited nearly 600 businesses. A total of 17 bars and restaurants across the state - including Buford's Backyard Beer Garden, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Icehouse, Soho Lounge, and UnBARlievable in Austin - saw their liquor permits suspended for 30 days after agents observed they weren't complying with the rules.

"The fact that there were fewer than 20 violations found among 600 businesses inspected shows that bar and restaurant owners are taking their responsibilities seriously," TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. "Our goal throughout Operation Safe Open is to encourage Texas businesses to operate safely, only those which put their customers' lives in danger will face penalties."

Under the state's re-opening guidelines, restaurants are limited to a maximum of 75 percent of their indoor capacity, while bars are limited to just 50 percent. Both bars and restaurants need to maintain six foot social distancing guidelines between groups, indoors and outdoors, further limiting their capacity.

This weekend, TABC says its agents will work with local law enforcement and code enforcement officials to identify locations where violations may be taking place. Concerned citizens can also report violations by emailing complaints@tabc.texas.gov, calling 888-THE-TABC, or by using the free TABC:Mobile smart phone app.

A first offense will result in a 30-day suspension of the business' liquor permit; a second offense could result in a 60-day suspension, officials said.

"It will take all of us working together to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Nettles said. "Texas' bars and restaurants will play a critical role in growing our state's economy, and following the state's guidelines will allow them to fulfill this role while keeping their customers and employees safe."

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