WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom is faced with the task of deciding whether or not bars can reopen.
Gov. Greg Abbott left that decision up to him, and other county judges following an announcement Wednesday, Oct. 7.
This means Judge Gossom will now weigh the pros and cons, as well as meet with health and other officials.
Soon, more bar stools may be full, and taps could be flowing at local bars, but one Wichita Falls resident said to pump the brakes because she believes it’s not time yet.
“I don’t think that the bars should be open right now,” Wichita Falls resident Kim Hall said. “I think people are not wearing the mask and they don’t think it’s real.”
Gov. Abbott has given authority to county judges to decide the bars’ fate. Judge Gossom plans to convene with the health district first.
“We should be having a conversation about whether or not we feel like that’s something he should do, but that is his decision,” Wichita Falls-Wichita County Health Director Lou Kreidler said.
Meanwhile, another local believes it’s time to open the doors again.
“Why should bars be closed? Why should any of it be closed?” Wichita Falls resident Bill Baker said.
Kreidler said many bars have already reopened and re-defined themselves as restaurants. She adds, either way, opening is risky.
“We know that people don’t go generally to bars to social distance,” Kreidler said. “They go to have a good time, to meet their friends, to drink and to just socialize.”
Hall said she doesn’t believe distance and bars mix well together.
“We want to drink and socialize, we are human,” Hall said.
Baker said bars are a place of association.
“You take those away, we no longer have those things, like we can’t gather with our family any more, we can’t gather with our friends anymore,” Baker said. “Are we putting ourselves at risk? We know the risk, we’re all adults here. Why can’t we make the decision?”
If Gossom does opt to open bars, Kreidler said owners should make sure the governor’s guidelines are followed and at the end of the day, it’s going to be a group effort.
“I think anything we do in our community, we’ve always done collaboratively,” Kreidler said. “I don’t see this being any different.”
As the county judge weighs pros and cons, residents are sharing their own.
Gossom said he is gathering information, and that a decision won’t be made until the latter part of next week.
He suggests bar owners don’t “jump the gun.”