WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Bars and similar establishments in Williamson County can open to 50% of indoor occupancy starting Wednesday, Oct. 14, the county announced Monday.

Wednesday is the first day bars are allowed to open in Texas under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

Abbott issued the order on Oct. 7, allowing bars to reopen in areas where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity, if a county judge allows it.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell signed and submitted an opt-in form to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commissioner on Oct. 8, according to the release.

Bars must follow several protocols to safely reopen, including:

  • Keeping dance floors closed.
  • Customers must be seated while eating or drinking (with limited exceptions for sampling at breweries, distilleries and wineries).
  • Customers must wear masks when not seated at a table.
  • Limiting tables to six people or less.
  • Following specific curfew guidelines.

Last week, Gravell told KXAN he wanted to be the first judge in all of Texas to reopen bars.

“It is time for all of our businesses to be open to serve our public while following the Governor’s health protocols to be safe,” Gravell said in a statement. “Our county residents have shown that they can be smart and protect themselves and others, so I will be choosing for Williamson County to opt in on Oct. 14.”

The 50% occupancy requirement is only indoors. The limit does not apply to outdoor areas, events or establishments, although social distancing and other protocols must be followed.