Texas Bar Owners Are Crying “Bar Lives Matter” As Gov. Reups Shutdowns To Curb Virus

Meanwhile, health officials are claiming that people congregating at indoor bars is contributing to the spike in cases in the country.

Wielding the nonsensical phrase “Bar Lives Matter,” Texas bar owners descended on the state capitol after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reimposed restrictions on their businesses following a surge in the state’s coronavirus cases. 

Bar owners and others protested outside the capitol building in Austin and the Governor’s mansion on Tuesday, declaring "Bar Lives Matter."

The bar owners’ rallying cry blatantly mocks the Black Lives Matter movement, which demands accountability for police violence that disproportionately targets Black people. The latest protest followed another demonstration against Abbott’s restrictions on Sunday outside of a bar in northeastern Texas.

In a description for the Tuesday protest on Facebook, organizers implied protests demanding justice for George Floyd and police accountability was to blame for the spike in coronavirus cases. (A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed 315 of the largest U.S. cities and found no spike in COVID-19 cases in the three weeks after the start of Black Lives Matter protests.)

“60k protesters filled the streets of downtown Houston, Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Austin and Dallas with zero care of Social Distancing guidelines. They were able to do whatever they liked [without] consequence,” the event’s description stated. “Today and for weeks or months to come we pay the consequences. Bars have been singled out like they are the cause for the spike. We all know the cause of the spike.”

After Gov. Abbott ordered on June 26 for bars to once again close their doors to slow the spread of the virus, more than 20 bar owners filed a lawsuit on Monday against Abbott and the state’s alcohol regulators, The Texas Tribune reported. The suit claims the order violates the Texas Constitution and “unlawfully suspends laws.”

“The rights Plaintiffs enjoy under the Texas Constitution are being trampled on by Defendants, while millions of individuals have lost their jobs and thousands of businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy,” the suit stated.

The bar owners in the suit argue that Abbott’s Friday order “picks and chooses winners and losers,” claiming the winners are hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, and other personal care services that haven’t been ordered to close. 

“Gov. Abbott continues to act like a king,” Jared Woodfill, attorney for the bar owners, told the Associated Press. “Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.”

Abbott isn’t the only governor to walk back on reopening plans once coronavirus cases began to climb again. States including California and Florida, which have also seen the nation’s highest spikes in cases, are reinforcing measures designed to slow the spread of the virus. Some states including New York and New Jersey, which were hit hard earlier in the outbreak but haven’t seen significant resurgences, have also specifically postponed indoor dining.

Health officials have also emphasized that people congregating at indoor bars have contributed to the country’s spike in cases. 

While testifying at a U.S. Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has seen people gathering in large groups without wearing masks, specifically at indoor bars, which is “really not good.” Fauci warned the U.S. could soon see more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases a day, as the country broke another daily record with more than 48,000 daily cases on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.

“Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news,” Fauci said. “We really gotta stop that right now when we have areas that are surging like we see right now.”