Since bars were shut down in mid-June, about 1100 bars statewide refiled to be considered restaurants just so they could stay open; others waiting for news, like that from the governor on Wednesday, saying they can finally re-open in some capacity.
“You have to kind of crawl before you can walk before you can run, and that’s what’s taking place,” said bar owner Bob Woody.
That is how he describes navigating re-opening business during the pandemic. “It’s a way out of the darkness because we’ve been in the dark for a long time,” he said.
Back in March bars and restaurants were shut down. In May, they were allowed to re-open with some capacity limits. But, after seeing COVID-19 spikes Governor Abbott ordered them to be shut down again. “We are the only industry that has been punished with these strict guidelines,” Woody said.
As bars move to reopen on Wednesday, it comes with rules that each establishment has to follow. For example, customers must remain seated while eating or drinking, groups have to be spaced at least 6 feet apart, and tables of more than six people are not allowed.
Things Woody says they already practice at his bars. “We try to control the line,” said Woody. “Let them in slow, treat their hands before they come in, and not let anyone dance.”
Woody added it’s not necessarily the capacity limits or the guidelines that are such a huge hit, it’s the time bars now have to close. “Closing at 11 pm, it’s almost the death of a bar to do that,” he said.
6th Street is known for its live music and entertainment, so Woody said allowing places to re-open to showcase that could impact not just the entertainment district, but the whole city. “As soon as we get our tourists back, we will really feel the difference and that’s what we’re waiting for and we’re building to that,” he said.