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Bar owner, College Station residents react after Governor Abbott says bars are to remain closed

Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 20:41:15-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Governor Abbott increased capacity for some businesses to operate, but not for bars.

O'Bannon's Taphouse is one of the many bars off of University Drive that remains closed.

The owner, Chris Steele, tells 25 News they had to celebrate their 15th anniversary in business in July, with the doors closed, due to the pandemic.

Steele is one of many dealing with the lack of business at his bar.

"Before the shutdown, we actually became the number one seller of Guinness in all of Texas, actually in all four states surrounding us, so we were a popular place," Chris Steele, Owner of O'Bannon's said.

Governor Abbott said Thursday in his latest press conference, most of the state can open at 75% capacity starting next week, including restaurants and retail shops, but bars are to remain closed.

"Because bars are nationally recognized as COVID-spreading locations, they are still not able to open at this time, however, it is important for them to know we are focused on finding ways to get them open," Governor Abbott said.

For local business owner like Chris Steele, he says the 75% capacity the Governor is offering to restaurants doesn't change much, especially for him.

"If you are going to let restaurants be at 75 percent, why can't bars open at 25 percent? Why cant we open at 25 percent, but say you have to be closed at midnight? There's just no help at all," Steele added.

Steele, completely frustrated, says he has been in contact with other bar owners and they too are at a loss.

"It's heartbreaking to see that there's no assistance coming from anywhere," Steele added.

For College Station resident Laura Wages, she says keeping bars closed during this time is playing it safe.

"It doesn't allow for the social distancing because you are there to socialize. You are not there to stay with your friends or stay with your family, you are trying to get away from being stuck. I get it and it's not fun, but I feel like it's not that safe right now," Wages said.

For some students like William Pier, he doesn't understand why one form of business can open, but not the other.

"I think that shopping malls and retail centers get just as crowded as bars do, so if they can open why can't bars?" William Pier said.

Steele says he doesn't see an end in sight for bar owners, unless you have a Food and Beverage Permit. He says even for many bars who have been closed for five months, $800 for a permit can be hard to come by.