Reports: Texas Bar Owners File Suit to Block Governor Abbott’s Shutdown Order
AUSTIN, TEXAS — On Monday, a group of about 25 bar owners filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court challenging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order to shut down bars across the state following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Austin-American Statesman first reported the news and notes that the lawsuit is predicated on the notion that Abbott’s order suspends state laws, a power that is reserved strictly for the Texas Legislature. Multiple outlets including The Texas Tribune have since confirmed the report.
In the order issued on Friday, June 26, Abbott demanded that all bars and establishments that earn more than 51 percent of their gross revenue from sales of alcoholic beverages close their doors, effective as of noon that Friday. The order permitted restaurants to remain open for dine-in services but at 50 percent or less of their stated indoor capacities, effective Monday, June 29. As part of the order, rafting and tubing businesses were also ordered to close, and local governments must now approve outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people.
According to the Texas Restaurant Association, about 800,000 industry workers have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. Over the weekend, Abbott noted that over the past couple weeks, the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Texas has risen from an average of about 2,000 per day to 5,000 per day, prompting a larger pause in reopening plans. The governor specifically cited bar activity as a driving force behind the surge in cases.