Packed Houston bars, nightclubs prompt enforcement of occupancy rules

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed his “disappointment” Sunday after videos surfaced from crowded city bars and clubs.

“It would be irresponsible on our part, to ignore that type of behavior,” said Mayor Turner.

Public videos added to Snapchat Maps show bars wall-to-wall with people. Texas bars and clubs opened for the first time in several weeks on Friday.

According to Governor Greg Abbott’s order, bars should not exceed 25% capacity in order to prevent spreading Coronavirus COVID-19. However, the Governor said this capacity rule would likely not be enforced.

RELATED: Gov. Abbott reopens bars and nightclubs with restrictions

“People are crowded, almost to what looks like maximum capacity,” said Mayor Turner referring to social media videos. “No social distancing. No masks. You’re forcing us to step-in for public health reasons and say no.”

On Friday, Mayor Turner said the City of Houston would not enforce the 25% bar capacity rule. However, after Memorial Day Weekend videos surfaced of crowded bars, Mayor turner decided to reverse that initial decision.

“You do not have the right to engage in irresponsible behavior, that could impact other people,” said Mayor Turner. “The goal is to not be heavy handed at all. We want people to comply, and to operate between the rules.”


According to Turner, Houston Fire Marshals received 137 phone calls Friday night relating to social distancing complaints.

“I hope we have a whole lot of snitches…” said Turner. “…[If] someone is out there engaging in activity that is going to infect a whole lot of other people, you need to snitch on them. I don’t call it snitching. I call it being responsible.”

According to Turner, the Fire Marshall can close down a bar for a night, or issue citations, if they don’t comply with the 25% requirement.

“We are going to enforce the requirements,” said Turner. “At first we are going to ask people to comply, if not, we’ll go to the next step.”

Turner hopes those that visited crowded Houston bars over the weekend will get tested for COVID-19.