WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJLT) — July 26 marks one month since Governor Greg Abbott closed Texas bars in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
With bartenders out of jobs and no revenue coming in for bar owners, the closing weighs heavy on local bars as they try to stay afloat. Governor Greg Abbott first closed bars in March, then gave the go-ahead to reopen on May 18 with restrictions. But after cases reached record highs, Abbott closed bars a second time on June 26th. Wichita Falls bar owners are struggling to come to grips with the governor’s decision.
“Thank you Governor Abbott we appreciate that,” Stick’s Place owner Kim Stevens said. “Bars are being held down. I have no clue as to when we’re gonna open. I have no clue as to when we’re gonna open as far as that goes.”
“We are extremely frustrated. The fact that it’s bars only is completely unfair. Not that we’re wishing that anybody else is shut down, I just feel like it’s an unnecessary step on his part. People will still socialize and find ways to socialize regardless of the restrictions,” Broken Tap owner Stacy Hawkins said.
But top medical advisor to the governor, Dr. John Zerwas, says bars are a hot spot for spread.
“We did find that the bars were areas where we saw some very significant potential for ‘super spreading events’ we would call them,” Zerwas said. “Which just means that lots of people together in close quarters for extended periods of time and generally not wearing a face mask.”
Stevens and Hawkins said they had social distancing measures when their bars were open and that if water parks and amusement parks can open, so should bars. But with no revenue, owners and their employees are struggling to pay bills.
“Rent is still due every month,” Hawkins said. “And there’s not been any relief on that either. So it’s extremely difficult when you don’t have any income and any revenue so we are extremely frustrated with the situation.”
“I’m hoping our government comes up with some more resources. As you all know things need to get paid and that money’s eventually gonna run out. We have employees sitting here not getting unemployment. We have people all over trying to find odd jobs to do but there’s so many people out there trying to do the same thing as well,” Stevens said.
Both bar owners are watching the governor’s moves closely, hoping that he reopens bars sometime soon.