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Community members cry foul after Brazos Valley bars forced to close due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 12:24:34-05

BRAZOS VALLEY, TX — After seven days of COVID-19 hospitalizations exceeding the threshold set by Governor Greg Abbott, several Brazos Valley counties are now restricted from performing elective surgeries and opening businesses at 75% capacity, leaving many local community members upset.

"You’ve got a lot of business owners asking themselves, "Why us?"" said Samuel Smith, organizer of BCS Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Facebook group.

In October, Governor Abbott issued an executive order outlining guidelines that must be met in order for certain industries to reopen at 75% capacity.

”I would tell you I am not happy about this thing. I mean, those are orders from the governor, GA-32. It’s all written in there. When we were able to open the bars, there were set guidelines,” said Brazos County Judge Duane Peters.

After seven consecutive days of surpassing the 15% percent threshold for COVID-19 hospitalizations, a rollback on occupancy restrictions is being implemented once again for counties in Trauma Service Area N. Counties in TSA N include:

  • Brazos
  • Burleson
  • Grimes
  • Leon
  • Madison
  • Robertson
  • Washington

”TABC is the one that will actually enforce anything against any bars. It’s not going to be the county judge. We don’t enforce that kind of stuff. All I did was step in to try to help them get open,” Judge Peters added.

Bars must close while restaurants will go from 75% capacity to 50% temporarily

”It feels like they're getting kicked back again after make all these modifications to their business, after going out of their way to operate as safely as possible,” Smith said.

Community members are upset to see the differences in the guidelines that separate bars from other establishments.

”It’s not that there’s a problem that doesn’t exist out there. The pandemic is something that everyone understands, that it’s actually occurring and going on. It’s the differences in treatment,” Alex Jester, a former establishment owner, shared.

Feeling empowered to help his community, Samuel Smith, a Bryan resident, spoke directly to community leaders on behalf of business owners in Brazos Valley.

”It wasn’t so much just to say, "Hey don’t do this." It was really to just say look at the entire picture, read the whole story and just try to help as much as possible,” Smith said.

According to the order, if hospitalizations drop below the 15% percent threshold for at least seven days, the restrictions can be lifted once again.