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Texas protesters defy governor's order, host mostly maskless rally at bar

Texas protesters defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order shutting down bars by hosting a mostly maskless rally at a club near Houston over the weekend.

Demonstrators gathered at Chuters Dance Hall & Saloon in Pasadena, Texas, Sunday night for a “Texas Bars Fight Back Rally” after nightclubs were ordered to close amid the state’s coronavirus outbreak, The Houston Chronicle reported

The dance floor was reportedly full of customers, most without masks, dancing to a live band and drinking alcohol, in violation of several state coronavirus restrictions.

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The dance hall’s owners, Chris and Helen Bergeron, had organized a peaceful protest at the Texas Capitol, pushing for the reopening of bars in late June. Chris Bergeron said bar owners like him “need to be able to survive and get back to work,” according to the Chronicle.

"It doesn't make no sense whatsoever and it's totally discrimination is all it is," Chris Bergeron told MySanAntonio.com. "I'm not sure why they are picking on us ... I don't know what [the governor's] reasons are, but it's wrong. It's completely wrong. It's totally against our constitutional right."

Abbott paused the state’s reopening and shut down bars in late June after Texas had quickly become a hot spot in the U.S. for COVID-19. 

The governor has said he regrets not shutting down the bars sooner, saying they have been identified as locations where major transmissions occurred, according to the Chronicle.

Other bar owners have taken to the legal system to combat the shutdown, with 22 of them suing the governor for the restriction and saying it “unconstitutionally bypasses the state legislature,” The Washington Post reported

Texas is struggling to reign in the number of coronavirus cases, reaching its highest single-day increase for new cases on Tuesday with 10,926 COVID-19 cases, according to New York Times data. Overall, the state has documented 275,058 cases and 3,322 fatalities, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A Houston Chronicle analysis determined that more than 100,000 of Texas’s cases were identified in the past two weeks.