Texas bar owners begin restructuring with hopes of reopening soon

Gov. Greg Abbott has not currently set a date to reopen bars in Texas, although he did ask bar owners to reach out with recommendations on how they could do so safely. 

Bob Woody, who sits on the board of directors for the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance, said he’s been working with Abbott’s strike force to determine new protocols for those venues, including dozens of his own. 

“It has been, tomorrow, 60 days that we’ve been closed,” said Woody. 

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Plans are already in place at Woody’s 6th Street bar, the Blind Pig Pub. Customers will have to agree to have their hands sprayed with sanitizer upon entering. Outside, there are lines on the sidewalk six feet apart to space out customers. Inside, lines on the floor keep customers further away from the bar while ordering. 

Woody said employees will be required to wear masks, while customers will be encouraged to do the same while walking to or from tables. 

“Once you get to your destination, take your mask off, sit down and drink from a plastic cup, a throwaway cup. Not one that we’re going to wash, not one we’re going to try to sanitize, one that we’re going to throw away,” Woody said. 

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Spaced out tables now cover the dance floor so customers won’t crowd together. 

“We’re going to have additional staff to come over and say, ‘You’ve got to back up. We can’t pull these tables together. We can only let, whatever the guidelines say, 5, 6 people at the most,” said Woody. 

Abbott opened restaurants under strict guidelines on May 1, salons reopen Friday, even gyms can resume operations May 18, but the governor stopped short of including a specific date for bars and nightclubs to open their doors. 

“The fact is that we are still working on safe ways to establish safe distancing at bars,” Abbott said during a briefing Tuesday. 

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“I believe it’ll still be the 18th,” said Woody. 

Woody said he thinks bar owners are ready to begin serving customers again, and if there’s a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, he’s happy to close the doors once more. But he doesn’t believe operating at a reduced capacity is going to be a problem, at least not the first few weeks.

“I am more concerned if we will have customers than I am concerned that we will have too many customers,” Woody said. 


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