AUSTIN, Texas - Across Texas, bars opened their doors for the first time in almost two months. Bars were one of the final businesses in Texas to be allowed to open as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's multiple-phased plan.
“It feels great to be open. It's good to kind of get back to a sense of normality, but at the end of the day, I think we all know that it's not exactly normal just yet,” said Brett Berry with Rustic Tap on 6th Street, who says restrictions have made going to the bar nowadays a different experience.
“Expect to come in and be educated on the new rules and, you know, even if you've been to another bar, some rules that different bars, there might be a different setup,” said Berry.
At Rustic Tap and multiple other bars, staff are wearing masks full-time. “We're trying to do our best to follow every rule we can," Berry said.
Patrons are also expected to put on a mask to get into Rustic Tap. “Everyone that comes in must have a mask. We have masks that we will give people if they don't have one or bandanas,” said Berry.
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Indoor bars have to keep the capacity at 25 percent. Bars like Rustic Tap doesn't have to follow that rule since it's an outside establishment. Berry says they’ll limit groups to no larger than six people and restrict mingling with other tables. Staff will also sanitize areas regularly.
“We're doing what we can to try to make people comfortable,” he said.
Mayor Steve Adler says it might be too soon to be opening bars back up, but says the best thing to do is keep an eye on the COVID-19 case numbers.
“The numbers will tell us if we're on the wrong path, and it'll tell us early enough for us to be able to react to be able to throttle it back before we overwhelm our hospitals,” said Mayor Adler.
Abbott told FOX 7 Austin that if things go smoothly with bars, the state will consider easing restrictions.
“If bars are successful, and replicating what restaurants were able to do, bars will be able to open in ways that do not spread COVID-19, and hopefully we'll be able to open in a way that will allow them to expand their opening the way that restaurants have been able to expand their opening, all the way up to 50%,” said Abbott.
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