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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

650 bars in Texas found violating COVID-19 restrictions

From June 18 to Oct. 29, the TABC inspected more than 23,000 establishments serving alcohol.

AUSTIN, Texas — From June 18 to Oct. 29, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) inspected 23,801 establishments serving alcohol. Of those, 650 ended with a violation and 208 ended with an emergency order request.

“The agency's motto is Texans helping businesses and protecting communities,” Victor Kuykendoll, chief of law enforcement at the TABC, said.

The TABC said most violations related to capacity issues, non-compliance with social distancing guidelines, or a lack of facial coverings.

Now, more investigators are in El Paso. COVID-19 is high in the area, and TABC must make sure bars stay closed.

RELATED: 'A real catastrophe' | El Paso has nearly as many active COVID-19 cases as Travis County has had total in pandemic

"TABC relies on information provided by the public to help our agents identify potential problem areas. Any complaints we receive, whether it’s a direct report, a social media post, or provided video or images, allows us to send agents where they’re needed most," Chris Porter, public information officer, said.

So far, 17 warnings have been issued in El Paso and five bars got their license suspended.

Only bars in counties listed on the TABC webpage can open, and they can only open at 50% capacity.

In Tuesday’s commission meeting, investigators with TABC said some of the other counties might be eligible to reopen. However, the County Judge hasn’t asked for permission in those places. 

Investigators also pointed out a new problem: Five applications to reopen bars may have been someone posing as a county judge.

“We haven’t determined if a crime has taken place as yet. Our special investigations unit is working to determine if the five separate instances were related. Once we have more information, we’ll be able to determine next steps,” Porter said.

Those five applications are now in the TABC Inspector General's Office to investigate.

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