Bars Across Texas Opened This Weekend in Protest of Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 Orders

Dallas rock group MESSER performed Saturday at Fort Worth music venue The Rail Club Live. - INSTAGRAM / PAMPEREDPOETS
Instagram / pamperedpoets
Dallas rock group MESSER performed Saturday at Fort Worth music venue The Rail Club Live.
This weekend, bars across state participated in "Freedom Fest," an event defying Governor Greg Abbott’s June 26 order that closed drinking establishments to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The protest aimed to show bars can safely reopen like other types of businesses around the state, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Chris Polone, owner of Fort Worth music venue the Rail Club Live, says he organized Freedom Fest to make the voices of bar owners heard and to show people that bars can operate without facilitating the spread of COVID-19.

“If you can get every single bar to stand up in solidarity, well, that’s a statement that won’t be ignored,” Polone told the newspaper.

Participating bars were expected to follow safety and sanitation guidelines such as taking temperatures before patrons entered, maintaining social distancing, requiring face coverings and having hand sanitizer available.

“From the outside looking in, it looks like just a bunch of pissed-off bar owners, but in reality we’re trying to express how we could safely open,” Polone told the Star-Telegram.

While almost 800 establishments signed up to participate in Freedom Fest, it's unclear how many actually opened their doors.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokesman Chris Porter told the Star-Telegram in an email that the commission was aware of the bars that planned to illegally open on Saturday and that agents would be conducting normal inspections.

Bars found to be operating illegally under the governor's closure order can face a 30-day suspension of their liquor license.

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