Burnet County Judge James Oakley will allow bars in the county to reopen starting Wednesday, Oct. 14. 

Oakley made his decision a day after Gov. Greg Abbott handed the authority to county judges to decide whether or not to reopen bars in their jurisdictions. 

“My intention is to allow bars, wineries, and distilleries to reopen October 14,” the county judge said. 

Oakley said he emailed a required form on Oct. 8 to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission stating he is going to allow bars and similar establishments to open. 

The county judge spoke with Marble Falls Mayor John Packer because Marble Falls has two bars: Mr. Bs, 207 Main St., and Brass Hall, 909 Third St.

“The governor and his experts have agreed this is an OK move,” Packer said. “We meet the criteria in Burnet County. These businesses have been closed for over six months. These people haven’t been able to work at their jobs. This allows businesses to reopen and people are able to go back to work, and that’s a good thing.”

Packer said he spoke with Marble Falls Fire Chief and Emergency Management coordinator Russell Sander before his conversation with Oakley. 

“He was confident with the Marble Falls situation,” the mayor said of Sander’s response.  

Oakley also spoke with Dr. Jules Madrigal, the Burnet County health authority, who told him that, as of Oct. 8, the county only has two locally hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Under Abbott’s proclamation allowing bars and similar establishments to reopen, only counties within Trauma Service Areas where 15 percent or less of the hospitalizations are COVID-19 patients can do so. Burnet and Llano counties are within TSA-O, which includes Austin and has a 3.33 percent COVID-19 hospitalization rate as of Oct. 7. 

Under the rules, bars and similar establishments can only open at 50 percent capacity and must follow other COVID-19 health and safety protocols

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the DailyTrib.com coronavirus resources webpage.  

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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