Austin bars get lifeline after TABC loosens COVID-19 restrictions

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has relaxed the rules for Texas bars a bit, which should make it easier for some establishments in Austin to reopen under current COVID-19 restrictions.

The TABC approved a new amendment that removes certain barriers and theoretically makes it easier to classify bars as restaurants.

According to Governor Greg Abbott’s current order, bars are not allowed to be open. Restaurants and restaurants with bars are allowed as long as 51 percent or more of their sales are generated with food.

A variety of bars that serve food have applied for a certificate to function as restaurants. However, this process has been made more difficult by restrictions that the TABC has now lifted.

Three obstacles were removed:

  • Commercial cooking appliances are no longer required

  • Commercially prepackaged items can be counted

  • Food trucks can also be counted

The changes to TABC relate to rule 33.5 which covers food and beverage certificates. The new change takes effect immediately. It means that:

  • Bars can now be reopened even if they don’t have commercial kitchens.

  • Food prepared off-site, including packaged items, can now be sold to bars.

  • Bars can now partner with food trucks and those sales count towards the TABC rule that groceries must make up 51 percent or more of their gross sales.

Bars and restaurants have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic – bars in particular. Governor Abbott closed it in March, then allowed it to reopen on May 22nd, and then abruptly closed it on June 26th.

“Many facilities that would otherwise have remained closed can reopen and operate safely because of these changes,” says the TABC amendment. “This result will not only help mitigate the economic crisis in the state of Texas resulting from the COVID-19 disaster, but also protect the welfare of the thousands of members of the regulated industry and their employees who depend on the revenues of these facilities.” support themselves and their families. “

“Without the option offered by this rule change, many of these facilities will be forced to close permanently within the next 30 days,” it said.

Bar owners still need to apply for a food and drink permit. And while there are fewer restrictions from the TABC now, it does not take into account what is happening in individual cities that would have to sign new occupancy certificates that come with these changes and potentially pose another set of hurdles and costs.

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