AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday, the Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance, in addition to several Texas bar owners, filed a lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott in federal court over the governor’s bar shutdown order.
The lawsuit claims that Abbott’s order violates the group’s Constitutional rights to operate their businesses, in addition to discriminating against the bar industry without credible reasoning.
The plaintiffs — which include Austin bars Soho Lounge and The Park at the Domain, say they’ve filed to “fight back against the misguided and irrational beam of attack” at their industry.
The bar alliance and bar owners say they’ve incurred substantial losses and will accrue even further ones if they remain closed. Additionally, they say that the governor’s recent order to close bars after choosing to reopen them, gave them three hours notice to halt all business operations.
The lawsuit claims that Abbott’s use of executive orders “suspend many existing laws” or else, create new ones based on whatever “the governor deems appropriate.”
The group says that what is most troubling is that the order doesn’t specify how long bars must remain closed or what will be required for them to reopen.
They say that Abbott has repeatedly ignored other factors for the surge in COVID-19 cases in Texas and instead “dug in his heels” to blame bars as the source.
The lawsuit reads:
“The Governor has not explained (much less with any rational basis) why consumption of alcohol at a bar is more dangerous than consumption at a restaurant (or other location).”
The plaintiffs say that as the order stands, bar owners will face financial ruin and 800,000 Texans in the industry will be out of work.
The bar owners also say that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission also prevented them from selling other products or using their venues in other ways to turn profits, with one Big Springs bar owner saying he was prevented from selling cigars even though there’s no mention of cigars in the order.
The owners also point to salons, which were allowed to open when cosmetologists and hairdressers “come into direct contact with the heads, faces and bodies of other people.”
The lawsuit is asking for clarification of the orders, in addition to costs, damages and up to $10 million.
The suit reads: “Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury. Businesses have a right to transact lawful business. The loss of Constitutional freedoms for “even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”