TABC suspends 4 Austin bars for not following COVID-19 policies

TO UPDATE: On Monday afternoon, TABC announced that the alcohol license for the Soho Lounge on East Sixth Street will also be suspended.

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Three bars in downtown Austin may not sell alcohol for 30 days after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission found they were violating protocols put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, TABC suspended alcohol permits for a dozen bars across Texas. This was part of an initiative to ensure bars are following coronavirus containment best practices.

The program is called Operation Safe Open and is an effort by TABC agents to ensure that companies across Texas are following protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19. These include capacity limits of 50 percent for indoor bars and 75 percent for restaurants, as well as social distancing of at least 6 feet between customer groups.

In Austin, TABC closed UnBARlievable’s WestBthlie site and Buford’s Backyard Beer Garden and Whiskey, Tango and Foxtrot Icehouse, which are also located in West Sixth.

Bentley Nettles, executive director of TABC, says in a press release that they have no tolerance.

“Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” says Nettles. “We warned companies that TABC has no tolerance for breaking the rules, and now some bars are paying the price. I hope other institutions will learn from these suspensions.”

Companies are given a 30-day suspension of their permission to serve alcohol.

TABC states that it will strictly monitor activities in bars and restaurants and will block the license in the event of violations of the emergency license.

The first violation leads to a license suspension of up to 30 days. The second results in suspension for up to 60 days.

The agency began enforcement on June 19 when it inspected more than 200 facilities. In the past month, agents inspected more than 3,000 locations across the state.

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