Clamping down: Gov. orders bars to close, limits outdoor events

Klay Jones hangs lights on the stage for Summer Sounds early Friday afternoon, June 26.

Weekend celebrations in Cooke County were slated to go on as planned after Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars Friday and instituted new restrictions on large outdoor gatherings.

Callisburg Volunteer Fire Department’s Independence Day celebration Saturday, June 27, was one of at least two events that could’ve been affected by the governor’s executive order issued Friday morning, June 26. The order specifies that outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people must have the approval of local officials — either the mayor or the county judge, whichever has jurisdiction. The VFD celebration and fundraiser had already received the approval of the Callisburg City Council, a spokesman told the Register shortly after Abbott’s announcement.

Abbott’s order also shuttered bars, effective at noon Friday, and reduced restaurant capacity across the state to 50%.

Previous orders from the governor’s office had allowed counties with few coronavirus cases to open at higher levels than the rest of the state. Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley said Friday that Cooke County restaurants would be permitted to remain open at 75% capacity.

“We have no plans to issue new emergency orders at the county level” as of Friday, Brinkley said. County commissioners’ most recent emergency declaration, issued June 8, simply recommends “all residents ensure that appropriate precautions be taken, in accordance with the Texas Department of State Health Services” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce potential spread of the coronavirus.

“All outdoor events that had previously been approved will still be allowed to proceed,” Brinkley said Friday.

The city of Gainesville, too, went ahead with allowing the season’s first Summer Sounds outdoor concert on the square. The concert was scheduled for Friday evening and had already been granted a permit to sell beer as well as a city permit for the large gathering on streets surrounding the Cooke County Courthouse, City Manager Barry Sullivan said.

Megan Gray-Hatfield contributed to this report.

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