Abilene City Council to discuss taking control from governor, deciding which businesses stay open

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Bars and breweries in Abilene have taken a major hit during this pandemic as Gov. Abbott continues to keep their doors shut.

The City of Abilene could, however, soon be taking back some control thanks to a recommendation from City Manager Robert Hanna.

It’s been an up and down ride for business owners like James Bridwell, who went from churning out new brews each week to now sitting in silence.

“We did the first shutdown, it was tough but it wasn’t as bad as this shutdown,” said Bridwell. “It’s absolutely maddening.”

With the latest round of shutdowns, Bridwell says he is relying just on money from his own pocket.

“We had PPP money to help pay the bills and pay our employees, now we don’t have anything, there’s no relief,” said Bridwell. “It’s literally the governor saying, ‘You can’t pay your bills,’ essentially.”

Breweries and bars are still one of the few businesses that remain closed during the pandemic, and for local business owners like Bridwell, they say they can’t help but feel singled out.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to go downtown and just see people sitting around tables having a few drinks together and going home,” said Bridwell. “It feels like we are a scapegoat.”

It’s a concern Hanna says he’s heard over and over again.

“I don’t, nor does the mayor, have the ability to override the governor,” said Hannah.

What they can do, however, and what Hanna is recommending, is to talk about sending a letter to Governor Abbott, asking him to put control back in the hands of local leaders.

“Our local businesses need to have a voice, we’ve had several reach out and if the council wants to send a resolution, I’m going to make sure that they have the opportunity to do that,” said Hanna.

While things aren’t set in stone yet, if it does pass it could help open doors and keep them open.

City council members are expected to discuss the item Thursday. If they decide they want to send a letter to the governor, that will be added to the next meeting’s agenda.

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