WACO, Texas – In an executive order Friday morning, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced that all bars in the state must have closed by noon and restaurants will have to limit its capacity to 50 percent – down from 75 percent.
The sudden news came as a shock to bar owners and employees.
“With all the rules in place, I figured they probably wouldn’t shut down,” Barnett’s Public House bartender Will Fleischhauer said. “After I got the news this morning, it was kind of a little bit shocking. We’re a little disappointed that we have to close down again.”
For local favorites like George’s Restaurant, being limited to only half their normal capacity again is a change they almost made themselves.
They believe safety in their dining room comes first, according to general manager Wade Canuteson.
“Whenever we first transitioned into the 75 percent [capacity], we almost stayed at 50 percent because of our social distancing and the tables being six feet apart,” Canuteson said. “We tried to maintain that, and maintain the integrity of our guests and the safety of our guests.”
The Dancing Bear Pub didn’t need Governor Abbott to them to pull back their doors – they saw the writing on the wall. They closed indefinitely on their own terms Thursday.
Aside from slow business, they had more important reasons to close.
“What is it worth? Most of my employees have kids, younger kids,” Dancing Bear’s owner Paxton Dove said. “Thinking about our own families, and taking it home was a big part of that decision.”
The number of positive COVID-19 cases has been climbing in Texas since the re-opening, with McLennan County on pace to set a new high water mark for cases for a third week in a row.
It may be up to the people to determine when these nights out will be safe again.
“It’ll probably get better sooner rather than later, as long as people are following the rules and actually taking it seriously,” Fleischhauer said.
Governor Abbott set no timetable for bars to reopen again.