City of Abilene ‘will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order’ to shut down bars, limit outdoor gatherings

Coronavirus

However, TABC will likely enforce bar shutdown

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. Research released on Thursday, May 28, 2020 shows how dangerous the coronavirus is for current and former cancer patients. Those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it, two studies found. (NIAID/National Institutes of Health via AP)

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene says they ‘will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order’ to shut down bars and limit outdoor gatherings.

City Manager Robert Hanna instead encouraged business owners and citizens to follow the orders to the best extent they can. 

In regards to bars shutting down, Mayor Anthony Williams said the City is not defying the order, instead letting TABC step in to enforce the order. He said bars should shut down and follow the Governor’s order.

Governor Greg Abbott issued the order to all of Texas Friday morning, saying bars must close at 12:00 p.m. and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 100 people unless local governments give approval to larger events.

In light of the order, Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna released a statement that reads in part, “the City of Abilene under the advice of the City Attorney, will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, BUT we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can.”

However, the City says TABC will likely work to enforce the shutdown of local bars.

Outdoor gatherings scheduled for June and July will likely still be able to take place in Abilene, but any other events are subject to cancellation.

Right now, masks are not required but encouraged for those who choose to do so. Social distancing is still recommended and if possible – avoid large crowds.

The following is a list of some local events set for June and July:

  • Rock the Swenson House: June 26
  • Big Country Swap Meet: June 26-27
  • Abilene Freedom Festival: July 4

Mayor Williams, addressing residents on Facebook, further explained the order and how the City of Abilene is dealing with it. He said the local hospitals were at 4 percent capacity.

On Thursday, Hendrick Health System CEO Brad Holland addressed the capacity. He said although we will likely see an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations, Hendrick has “plenty of capacity at this time,” and are holding 15% capacity for future COVID patients.

Mayor Williams said those who have events are asked to email him at anthony.williams@abilenetx.gov to seek guidance.


According to the Mayor, he and health officials will meet next week to further discuss the order and the current status of COVID-19.

Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls said the County will also not enforce the order, and he anticipates events in the immediate future will be allowed to still happen.

Read City Manager Robert Hanna’s full statement below:

The City of Abilene under the advice of the City Attorney, will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, BUT we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can. In regards to bars and restaurants, TABC will likely work to enforce the Governor’s Executive Order. 

Any immediate events scheduled in June and July will likely proceed, but events further out I cannot speak to at this time. All that being said, the City reserves the right to cancel outdoor gatherings over 100 attendees if the public’s health is endangered. We will rely on hospitalizations and infection rates to make these determinations. The message folks need to hear is that they need to use common sense, and be responsible. Avoid large crowds, social distance, if you choose to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask respect those that do and avoid antagonizing folks or standing or walking within six feet of them. Basically be kind to one another and look out for each other. Pretty simple rules to live by.

The City of Abilene also released the following statement:

The City of Abilene encourages all business owners and citizens to follow Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order issued earlier today, limiting certain businesses and services in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The City of Abilene never intended to disregard the Governor’s Executive Order, or support any kind of action by citizens or business owners in contradiction to the Executive Order. The City apologizes for any lack of clarity in earlier messaging on the matter.

Click here for Governor Abbott’s June 26, 2020 Executive Order.

While the City of Abilene is not the enforcement agency charged with overseeing compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order, the City asks that residents and business owners follow the Order to the best of their ability.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is the enforcement authority that will work to enforce the Governor’s Executive Order within bars and restaurants across the state. The City of Abilene relies upon the TABC to identify bar or restaurant owners who operate in a manner inconsistent with the Governor’s Order, and if necessary, pull the liquor license of an establishment.

Any immediate events scheduled in June and July within the City of Abilene will likely proceed, however, the City reserves the right to cancel outdoor gatherings over 100 attendees if the public’s health is endangered. The City will rely on COVID-19 hospitalization and infection rates to make these determinations.

The City of Abilene strongly encourages residents to use common sense, and be responsible; avoid large crowds, social distance, and wear a mask if found appropriate. Individuals who wish not to wear a mask are asked to respect those who do and provide proper social distance of at least six feet.

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