Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said bars throughout the county can reopen with 50 percent capacity, this Wednesday, in compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order issued last week.

“On October 7, the governor signed Executive Order GA, which allows bars in areas with low hospitalizations to reopen on October 14,” Judge Sims noted in his daily 4 p.m. COVID-19 update.

Gov. Abbott said bars could open with 50 percent capacity, at the discretion of county judges.

“I have applied with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and been granted permission to reopen bars in Harrison County, effective (Wednesday), October 14,” said Sims.

The county judge said similar to other businesses — especially restaurants with bars in them — bars will have requirements to operate in a safe manner for the protection of guests and staff.

“If restaurants have been able to do it successfully, a similar business should be allowed that opportunity, as well,” he said.

The county judge said he’s only aware of three facilities that meet the definition of being strictly a bar that will be reopening. The establishments are: Elks Lodge, American Legion and the East End Pub Social Club, located at 5555 E End Blvd S., in Marshall.

“These are all small operations with minimal occupancy but are further restricted by the state order of a maximum 50 percent occupancy,” he said.

“According to the state’s guidance, if the hospitals in our area exceed 15 percent occupancy with COVID-19 patients for seven consecutive days, bars will be required to close,” he explained.

As bars reopen, he urges residents to continue to practice safety measures to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“While we all want to see things return to normal, please continue to be cautious and protect yourself,” Judge Sims encouraged. “Avoiding crowds is best, outdoor events are best, wearing a mask is best, keeping your hands clean is best.

“Let’s do our best to keep ourselves and our neighbors COVID free!” he said.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services protocol for bar operations, all customers must be seated while eating or drinking at the bar or similar establishment.

“There is no occupancy limit outdoors at a bar or similar establishment. Bar or similar establishment employees are not counted toward the occupancy limitation,” the TDSHS indicated. “For these purposes, bars or similar establishments are establishments with a permit from TABC that are not otherwise considered restaurants.”

The protocol further instructs bars to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m., each day.

“All employees and customers must also wear a face covering (over the nose and mouth) wherever it is not feasible to maintain six-feet of social distancing from another individual not in the same household, except when seated at the bar or similar establishment to eat or drink,” the TDSHS said.

The protocol for patrons admonish guests to also wear a face covering (over the nose and mouth) wherever it is not feasible to maintain six-feet of social distancing from another individual not in the same household, except when seated at the bar or similar establishment to eat or drink.

“When maintaining six-feet of separation is not feasible, other methods should be utilized to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a face covering or mask, washing or sanitizing hands frequently, and avoiding sharing utensils or other common objects,” the protocol states.

The TDSHS also mandates self-screening for COVID-10 symptoms before going into an establishment. Patrons should also wash or disinfect hands upon entering a reception and after any interaction with employees, contractors, other attendees, or items in the bar or similar establishment.

No tables of more than six people will be allowed, according to protocol. The TDSHS advises individuals ages 65 and older to stay home as much as possible due to being at a higher risk of COVID-19.

“Because of the social interaction that occurs at bars or similar establishments, strict adherence to these protocols is important,” the TDSHS stated. “A person infected with COVID-19 may not know it, and may pass it to someone else unwittingly.

“Carry hand sanitizer, and use it regularly while at the bar or similar establishment, especially after contact with individuals outside the household,” the protocol instructed.

To view protocols for both establishment and patron visit the website links: https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/docs/opentx/Bars.pdf and https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/docs/opentx/Bar-Patrons.pdf

County Cases

Regarding the number of COVID-19 cases for the county, Sims noted that the county had 12 new cases on Tuesday.

Of the cumulative total of 963 positive cases for the county, 35 have been fatalities, 888 have been recoveries and 40 are considered active cases.

MISD Cases

Marshall Independent School District reported one new COVID-19 cases, on Tuesday, at David Crockett Elementary School. The school district also saw an additional recovery, which was at Marshall High School. David Weaver, MISD public information officer, said the district now has a total of 13 active cases.

“We are hoping that our upcoming Fall Break will help us lower that number significantly heading into next week,” said Weaver, noting the district will be closed for Fall Break Oct. 14-19. School resumes next Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Statewide Cases

According to the latest statistics on the Department of State Health Services database, as of 4 p.m., Tuesday, 253 of the state’s 254 counties were reporting cases, which is one more from last week.

Approximately 7,012,023 tests had been administered across the state. A total of 800,415 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Of those, a total of 16,622 have resulted in death and 708,349 have recovered, for a total of 77,126 active cases.