TABC Officially Approves Opening Bell County Bars

Belton, TX – At 4:26 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) officially approved Bell County Judge David Blackburn’s request to allow bars to reopen in Bell County.

Bell County bars were forced to close on January 5, when the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) categorized Trauma Service Area L, of which Bell is one of 6 member counties, as having a high COVID-19 hospitalization rate. This came after DSHS determined that COVID-19 patients had occupied more than 15% of area hospital beds for a period of 7 consecutive days. Under Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s GA-32, this designation meant not only that bars would be required to close, but also that many other Bell County venues would have to maintain maximum occupancy levels of 50%.

On Wednesday, Judge Blackburn was notified by John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of DSHS, that Trauma Service Area L had once again dropped below the 15% occupancy threshold for 7 days straight and no longer met the definition of a high hospitalization area. At that point, Judge Blackburn received notification from TABC that he could once again opt-in to reopen bars and similar establishments in Bell County. Judge Blackburn submitted that paperwork Wednesday morning.

The official TABC map of Texas counties where bars are allowed to be open can be found on the TABC website at tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus.