LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has suspended the liquor permit of a Longview bar owner who defied Governor Greg Abbott’s shut-down order.
On Friday, in response to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across the state, Abbott issued an executive order shutting down bars and scaling back restaurant dining.
Melissa Lynn Kelly, owner of Outlaws bar in Longview, defied that order and kept her establishment open.
“I have to pay my bills, so that means I have to open,” Kelly told KETK News.
On Friday night, TABC agents fanned out across Texas, visiting 628 bars to monitor compliance with Abbott’s order. They found 30 bars open in violation of the governor’s executive order.
According to TABC, after agents spoke with management and provided them with the executive order, 28 bars agreed to shut their doors. Two remained open – a bar in Abilene, and Outlaws in Longview.
TABC suspended the liquor licenses for both establishments for 30 days. A second infraction will result in a 60-day suspension.
Kelly has a history of defying state orders.
In May, after Abbott began reopening businesses across the state but excluded bars, Kelly opened Outlaws and resumed inside service.
Abbott allowed bars across the state to reopen on May 22.
Another Longview bar, Electric Cowboy, had its liquor license suspended last week for violating capacity and social distancing requirements.
The governor’s “pause” on reopening the state came as Texas began seeing a sharp spike in COVID-19 numbers, reporting more than 23,000 confirmed new cases last week, and on Friday surpassing 5,000 hospitalizations for the first time – a threefold increase from a month ago.
“We want to thank bar owners across the state who are making great sacrifices to protect their fellow Texans,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said in a statement. “We know bar and restaurant owners have been suffering mightily throughout this pandemic. By taking these extraordinary steps to limit capacity and close doors, lives will be saved and we can increase the chances of successfully reopening businesses in the future.”
Other violations of the governor’s order can be reported to TABC by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 1-888-THE-TABC, or by using the free TABC:Mobile application for Apple and Android devices.