The workers gathered in front of the Capitol Monday, on what would have been the first day of SXSW 2021, and just two days before statewide COVID-19 mandates are rolled back.
That means all businesses can re-open at 100 percent capacity. "We don’t know if we’re going to die from going to work," said a demonstrator with Democratic Socialists of America. He asked to only be identified as "Chris H."
Wednesday, the statewide mask mandate will also be lifted. "Try to explain to a drunk guy that he can’t drink anymore, versus telling a drunk guy to put on a mask that he thinks is ‘a right, his right to not wear.’ We need the backing of the government." said John Maverick, a currently unemployed Austin bar doorman.
Jeannette Gregor, a bartender who organized the demonstration on behalf of the "Amplified Sound Coalition" echoed Maverick’s concerns. "Now, we can no longer lean back on ‘it’s a state law, it’s a state mandate.’ We have to say ‘well it’s our bars position’ and it just opens the floor up for debate and arguments
Some of those arguments were already in plain view Monday, as anti-mask demonstrators, and prominent local conspiracy theorists heckled speakers.
"It was sort of par for the course, this is what essential workers are dealing with every day," said Gregor. Adding, "...and to know that these guys here are backed up by our governor, who clearly hasn’t given us any consideration or thoughts, is that much more frustrating and heartbreaking."