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'Turn Up The Lights In Unity' | San Antonio bars to demonstrate in push to reopen safely

Bars across Texas are turning their lights on to let the community and the governor know they're ready to open. Here's their plan to reopen safely.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio bar owners are ready to open. Bars across Texas are pushing Governor Greg Abbott to let them. On Friday, several bars in the Alamo City will be participating in 'Turn Up The Lights In Unity'.

The event is where bars will turn on their lights, and show the community they miss being open. They also want to unite the industry to show support. Greg Barrineau owns 'Drink Texas'. He has a location downtown, and two others in Boerne.

"We are ready to open up and get back to business in a safe way."

Barrineau hasn't had a customer since mid-March.

"We have had zero revenue for two whole months," he said. "For me, it is hundreds of thousands of dollars during that time frame."

Barrineau is also on the board of the Texas Bars and Nightclub Alliance. The group sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott asking to reopen safely like restaurants.

Eateries are already allowed to offer dine-in at 25% occupancy. The group has come up with these guidelines to safely reopen:

  1. 51% licenses will maintain occupancy in accordance with CDC recommendations and in collaboration with the state, aligning with full-service restaurants. 
  2. 51% licenses will install tables and chairs to eliminate open areas and encourage patrons to sit instead of stand to maintain social distancing. 
  3. 51% licenses will hire additional door staff to ensure that social distancing guidelines are met and that groups of patrons do not form. This will also provide additional jobs for Texans. 
  4. 51% licenses will adhere to the Texas Restaurant Promise adopted in the Phase I opening of restaurants. 
  5. Coordination with local city governments to maintain the suspension of road closures in entertainment districts. 
  6. Adoption of single use plastic cups and paper plates. 
  7. Mandatory and supervised use of hand sanitizer before entry and re-entry. 
  8. Encourage all staff to retake TABC certification class online. 
  9. All staff must wear masks during operating hours and encourage patrons to wear masks. 
  10. Enforcement: TABC has legal authority to immediately suspend any license that poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety for 90 days.

"It is very frustrating to see restaurants with bars that are open and socially distant and manage that well," he said. "We certainly can do the same thing."

The governor at first said bars could likely open mid-May along with hair salons, and gyms. Salons are already open, and gyms will open on the 18th. As of now, there's no date for bars.

The governor recently said he needs more information, and that bars pose a greater risk of the transmission of the coronavirus.

"We are going to ensure that our customers are socially distancing, we have set up the tables," Barrineau said. "We are not going to have a dance floor at any location. We are either not going to open the bar top or make sure it is safe."

The 'Turn Up The Lights' event will happen Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  The bars will turn on their lights and have music to remind consumers they're still around. They will be open, but not taking any customers. They will also be practicing safety measures. Barrineau plans to be at his downtown location.

He said Governor Abbott has not responded to the request from the alliance.

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