WACO, Texas – After Tuesday’s surprise announcement where Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared all businesses can reopen at 100 percent capacity and dropped the statewide mask mandate, small businesses must decide how to handle the decision they have waited almost a year for.
Kendall Cockrell, the co-owner of Freight Bar in Waco, knows the effects of COVID-19 all too well. Both he and his business partner saw their fathers battle the virus in the ICU last year.
“It was scary. We didn’t know if they were gonna make it out,” Cockrell said. “Thankfully, they did.”
With the vast outdoor space at the bar, they don’t see Governor Abbott’s decision as an earth-shattering one.
“I don’t think it’s gonna change much here,” Cockrell said. “I think there’s outdoor space, we’ve got plenty of room, all our tables are spaced out and spread out, there’s no reason to cram them together.”
Others, like Barnett’s Pub in downtown Waco, are smaller spaces that thrive on cozy experiences for their customers and can’t space them out as easily.
“We’re looking at not having been able to see peoples’ smiling faces walking in the door,” says Kris Bail, the pub’s operations manager. “That’s something that we love so much about our customers, and that’s something that motivates us to keep coming back and keeps them motivated to keep coming back to us.”
Both businesses say they need time to think about how they will handle the changes but are adamant they will keep their sanitation practices in place.
“Our policy will be to be as safe as possible while still serving the public,” Cockrell said.
Both also see this move as a step towards normalcy.
“Being able to say, ‘I can go to any bar. I can go to any restaurant that I want and I can sit wherever I want,’ There’s a lot of freedom that’s been given back,” Bail said.
The restrictions will be loosened on Wednesday, March 10th.