HOUSTON - New video surfaced this weekend of people inside an open nightclub in downtown Houston.
“They must shut down and they should have shut down on noon on Friday,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
On Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a new order that closed bars and clubs to prevent spreading Coronavirus COVID-19. In addition, restaurants will be forced to serve only half capacity starting Monday.
“If the majority of their revenue receipts are coming from alcohol, under the Governor’s order, they must cease,” said Mayor Turner referring to bars. “They are closed.”
Numerous viewers sent their concerns to FOX 26 over the weekend regarding crowded Houston area bars. We had a crew drive around and check their concerns Saturday night but only found one bar establishment noticeably open.
Outside the downtown nightclub, workers were seen directing traffic and there was a line of people going inside.
“We’re in the fourth month of this pandemic,” said Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena. “I think a lot of that is because of complacency.”
Houston Fire Marshal and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) workers are patrolling for businesses not following Governor orders. According to Chief Pena, they patrol based on complaints that are called-in.
“In the last 24 hours, we had over 170 complaints that we responded to,” said Chief Pena Sunday evening. “We’re going to go insure that these businesses are in compliance with the Governor’s executive order. We’ll try to gain voluntary compliance. If not, a referral will be made to the TABC.”
We’re told $1,000 fines can be issued for those that ignore the order. In addition, TABC can suspend a bar’s ability to sell alcohol for several days.
While most bars in Texas follow the Governor’s order, some are choosing not to. In a Facebook post, the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance (TBNA) responded to those working around the decision.
“We support our members in the constitutional right to protest by keeping your businesses open,” said TBNA on Facebook. “TBNA has heard from members across the state all day expressing their rage that our businesses have once again unjustly been indefinitely closed without one shred of scientific evidence that bars and nightclubs pose any more of a public health hazard than a restaurant, grocery store, big-box retailer, convenience store, health club, hair salon or the many of other business segments that cater to the public throughout the state of Texas.”
We reached out to the Houston nightclub numerous times for a response regarding their opening, but as of Sunday evening, we had not heard back.
“Those who continue to stay open, their names will be provided to me and we will put them on the wall of shame,” said Mayor Turner.