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Texas Bar Owners Sue Governor: He's 'Acting Like a King'

Newser — Arden Dier

More than 30 bar owners in Texas have filed a legal challenge against Gov. Greg Abbott's order Friday to close all bars for a second time.

"Why does he continue unilaterally acting like a king?" says Houston lawyer Jared Woodfill, who filed the lawsuit in Travis County District Court on Monday, per the Texas Tribune.

Woodfill—who's challenged Abbott's other coronavirus-related restrictions, including mask requirements—says the governor is "sentencing bar owners to bankruptcy." Tee Allen Parker, owner of Machine Shed Bar & Grill in Kilgore, says she plans to protest the order at the Capitol Grounds on Tuesday.

Abbott is "violating our constitutional rights," she tells the Tribune. "I don't like that he can't be consistent … Everything he's said he's walked back."

Abbott said the order was "essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health." He acknowledged "Texans congregating in bars" were partly responsible for an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state and said he regretted reopening bars at 25% indoor capacity on May 22, followed by 50% capacity on June 3, per the Tribune.

"If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting," he told KVIA.

The rolling, seven-day average of new cases in Texas has hit a record high "for the past 20 days straight," per the Washington Post. Some 800,000 workers in the restaurant industry have lost their jobs, according to the Texas Restaurant Association.

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