As Covid-19 cases have increased in the U.S. over the past couple of weeks, state governments, unfortunately, are re-imposing some of the authoritarian measures that they had lifted. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott ordered all bars (defined as any establishment that makes at least 51% of its revenue from alcohol sales) to shut down by noon last Friday and ordered all restaurants to limit occupancy to 50% of capacity, down from 75%.
Agents from the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission reportedly visited almost 1,500 bars across the state, found that 59 were still open, and suspended the licenses of 7 bars that did not agree to close immediately. The city also reportedly responded to over 300 complaints about bars that were still open and restaurants that were exceeding capacity. (Why someone, let alone 300 people, would complain about such a thing is beyond me.)
Texas bar owners are fighting back in court against these authoritarian policies. They have filed lawsuits in Austin, Houston, and Galveston arguing that the restrictions violate the state constitution.
Jared Woodfill, the attorney for the bar owners, said to the Associated Press: “Gov. Abbott continues to act like a king. Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.”
Right on. People have a right to go to bars and restaurants if they want to. These activities may increase the risk of catching the virus, but each person has a right to make his/her own decision about whether or not to take this risk. If you think that going to a bar or restaurant carries an unacceptable level of risk, then don’t go.