FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (KXAN) — A popular tourist destination for Texans is making a comeback as families start venturing out more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
County Judge Mark Stroeher said there’s been heavy foot traffic along the popular Fredericksburg Main Street shopping strip over the last few weekends, almost like pre-COVID-19 days. It’s good news for the local economy which took a big hit when stores were forced to close, but there’s a downside.
“The crowds are so heavy and what’s really disturbing is if you look around downtown, very few of the visitors are wearing masks or practicing social distancing,” said Stroeher.
Some visitors are taking notice, and posting about it on social media.
A man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he shot video Saturday night from the Crossroads Saloon in Fredericksburg of people without masks on the dance floor shoulder to shoulder.
KXAN has reached out to Crossroads for a response.
When we told Judge Stroeher about the video, he was not surprised.
“That’s kind of what we hear is that people are done with it, they’re ready to be finished with it and I say, ‘Listen folks, this thing is still here, we still have to pay attention to those hygiene standards and the social distancing.”
Gillespie County’s total COVID-19 cases have remained in the single digits, but increased from five to nine over the weekend after several people tested positive at a Fredericksburg nursing home.
KXAN also reported on a local school board member testing positive while the school board was still meeting in person.
Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce President Penny McBride said the city has always been a place where tourists can get away from the hustle and bustle of home, but they still need to bring the same safety practices with them.
“Wear their mask, wash their hands, keep a reasonable distance from people they don’t know because we all agree that’s the best way to control the spread of the virus,” said McBride. “We don’t want something happening that endangers lives and also threatens to shut down our economy again.”
The chamber launched a COVID-19 safety campaign for business owners to join called “The Better Burg Promise.” It involves putting a sign in their storefront that lets customers know they are following state and federal health guidelines to help keep the town safe by social distancing, washing hands, staying home if sick and covering their face when they cough or sneeze.
Tuesday, KXAN saw very few tourists wearing masks while walking around Main Street, and some store employees not wearing them either.
Some businesses are requiring customers to wear them inside, but Stroeher said the majority are not because they don’t want to lose out on customers and potential income.
Stroeher said the county is not considering a mask mandate because Governor Greg Abbott has made it clear cities and counties cannot enforce it or penalize people for not wearing one. The county and chamber said it will continue encouraging it.