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Coronavirus COVID-19 Local News

County Judge Says Comal Bars Can Reopen on Wednesday

Comal County's Open Safe Plan includes a number of control measures that will be enforced by the county fire marshal and area law enforcement.

Comal County bar owners who submit an “open safe plan” to the county can reopen for business as early as Wednesday, Oct. 14.

County Judge Sherman Krause said today he decided to ‘opt-in’ to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Oct. 8 order, which allows Texas bars to reopen at 50-percent occupancy with customers seated while eating or drinking. Loitering at a bar is not allowed. There is no outdoor-occupancy restriction. Bars cannot serve alcohol after 11 p.m.

“Many businesses in our community have been struggling because of the pandemic, but we have an opportunity to reopen in a way that keeps customers and employees safe,” Krause said in a statement. “COVID-19 is still a threat to our community but this is a small step we can take towards getting back to normal. Business owners need to take this health threat seriously, but we can still provide a safe environment while open for business.”

“It’s up to us to do it right,” he said.

To see a Facebook video of Krause’s statement, click here.

Bar owners must complete and submit an “Open Safe Plan” certifying they will follow required safety measures including social distancing, sanitation and hygiene practices. Click here to review the plan.

County Fire Marshal Kory Klabunde will lead a team of compliance officers tasked with visiting local bars to communicate minimum health protocols developed by the governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas. Comal County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) COVID-19 task force will assist Klabunde.

Public Information Officer Cary Zayas said the county began developing its plan to reopen bars and similar establishments after Abbott’s announcement last week.

Health officials, local mayors, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and area law enforcement were involved in the planning.

Abbot reopened Texas restaurants and bars in the spring, but closed bars in June after COVID-19 cases soared in the state. Bars are defined as establishments where alcohol is responsible for 51% or more of all sales.

Open Safe Plan

General Controls

  • Signs will be placed to communicate/remind customers and employees about best-hygiene practices.
  • Table top items like condiments, silverware, flatware or glassare will not be left on unoccupied tables.
  • Condiments will only be provided upon request and in single-use portions or in reusable containers that are cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Disposable menus will be used (new for each customer) or menus will be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Staff Control

  • All employees and contractors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the establishment. Employees with symptoms will be sent home. Bars will refer to public health guidelines before allowing an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 or displays symptoms to return to work.
  • All employees and contractors are required to wear appropriate face coverings and maintain six-feet distance from customers, when possible.
  • All employees will be trained on safety measures, including cleaning and disinfecting, hand-hygiene and respiratory etiquette (coughing or sneezing into elbow or tissue).
  • Employees will be designated to enforce controls like face coverings, social distancing, hand-sanitizing and other control measures.

Physical Control

  • Tables/booths will be spaced six feet apart (exceptions for partitions).
  • Dance floors or other activities that promote close contact will be closed/restricted.
  • Pathways for ingress or egress will be kept clear and unobstructed.

Customer Controls

  • Number of customers allowed inside an establishment is limited to 50-percent of the occupancy of the building. This number does not include staff. Outside seating areas are not limited to occupancy levels, but groups must stay six feet apart.
  • No alcohol served after 11 p.m.
  • Customers must wear face masks when not seated.
  • Customers cannot loiter at the bar or in common areas and must remain seated at tables.
  • Only seated individuals will be served. If service is provided at a bar, customers must return to their seats once served. Breweries, wineries and distilleries can serve customers standing at a counter if the customers are sampling products.
  • Groups of customers cannot exceed six people. Groups will be separated by six feet at all times, including while waiting to be seated.

Sanitizing Controls

  • Hand-sanitizing station will be located at the entry to the estabilshment. Other disinfectants, like wipes an soaps and water also will be available to customers and employees.
  • Surfaces frequenty touched by employees and customers — doorknobs, tables, chairs — will be frequently cleaned and disinfected.
  • Restrooms will be frequently cleaned and disinfected. Cleanings will be documented.

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