Crowds pack Texas streets, some businesses stay open on NYE despite city of Austin dine-in restrictions


AUSTIN (NewsNation Now) —  Austin’s restrictions on late-night dining during the New Year holiday weekend were upheld by the courts Thursday, but that didn’t stop businesses from staying open and serving patrons to ring in the new year.

Several bars on Sixth Street and Rainey Street stayed open in defiance of the local order with support from Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders.

Bar owners and operators told NewsNation affiliate KXAN that not being open on New Year’s Eve would hurt their bottom line during a year where most establishments have been living on the edge to begin with.

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Patrick Ruby, the general manager at the Tipsy Alchemist, said his staff depends on New Year’s Eve to make ends meet.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the city over the restrictions, saying they are against Gov. Abbott’s statewide order. Judge Amy Clark Meachum of the 201st District Court heard from attorneys representing both the state and city and county about the matter Thursday, and she denied the state’s request for a temporary injunction to stop the local order.

Paxton then filed an emergency appeal, but the Third Court of Appeals refused to hear it.

Paxton said in a statement Friday he intends to ask for an emergency stay with the Supreme Court of Texas to halt the enforcement of a four-day shutdown of dine-in food and beverage services from 10:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., December 31 through January 3.

Several restaurant and bar owners spoke out against the local order at a rally at 12 p.m. Thursday before the hearing.

“We gotta get through this, and we have to stop this local regulation,” said Skeeter Miller, owner of County Line. “My average employee tenure is 30 years, so those people are super important to me. We have really spent every dime we have to make sure that we keep them employed.”

Businesses face a potential $1,000 fine if found in violation of the local order, but Austin Mayor Steve Adler has said all along he’d rather have people make these decisions in a good faith effort to help others.

“The bigger concept is that each of us has the power to protect our neighbors and save lives by the choices we make as individuals. Celebrate at home, order out and tip generously. There’s no better way to bring in the new year than in solidarity with our neighbors,” Adler said in the statement.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN contributed to this report.

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