Judge: Tarrant County bars can reopen

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FORT WORTH (1080 KRLD) - You can add Tarrant County to the list of counties where bars can reopen.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley has announced that he will allow bars to reopen Wednesday at 50% capacity.

Judge Whitley says he reached his decision after talking with many people.

“I’ve talked with my partners in the court,” Judge Whitley said in a Monday afternoon news conference. “I talked with mayors in the cities all around Tarrant County. I’ve had two or three conversations with our hospital execs. I've talked with some of the bar owners already.”

Judge Whitley’s conversations with the hospital executives appear to be the ones that ultimately led him to his decision.

“I had conversations with the hospital CEOs as recently as this afternoon, and they all feel comfortable with the decision that I've made in this regard,” says Judge Whitley, “and they feel like the hospitals are in good shape, and there’s not a worry about making this move.”

Whereas the judges in Dallas and Denton County announced their decisions almost immediately after Governor Abbott announced his plan for the reopening of bars, Whitley took a few days to come to his decision.

He says it was not an easy decision to reach.

“As your balancing out the public health for the COVID virus, you also have to balance out the consequences to mental health (and) the financial consequences to many of these business,” Judge Whitley says.

Judge Whitley warned bars, however, that they must enforce the reduced capacity and that everyone inside must be wearing masks.

“If flagrant violations of the occupancy requirements are ignored or COVID cases make up more than 15% of our Tarrant County hospital capacity, I won’t hesitate to close bars,” says Whitley.