AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Austin-area bars held a soft opening Friday while keeping a close eye on new announcements from Governor Greg Abbott.
Texas Bar & Nightlife Alliance President Michael Klein said the soft reopening encouraged bars to open their doors to the public. The soft opening acted as a sign of solidarity for the bars — which have not yet been included in Gov. Abbott’s plans to reopen the Texas economy.
On Monday, Gov. Abbott will hold another news conference with a potential update on the next phase of his reopening plan.
Meanwhile, an Austin bar owner prepares to open more than a dozen bars once he’s given the green light.
“We made the club ready on the inside, provided live music. People could come in, they could take a look around,” said bar owner Bob Woody in regards to Friday’s soft opening. “They asked us what was going on, we told them. We couldn’t sell them any drinks, but hopefully we get that thumbs up on Monday.”
For weeks, Woody has been preparing his bar by ordering protective masks and figuring out social distancing standards for his more than 400 employees
“Plastic cups instead of glass — canned beer or bottles. We’ve been closed for 75 days. The beer that we have is outdated,” said Woody. “You have to make sure the beer is not older than a couple of months. That’s really how long it lasts. We go through it weekly. Those are things that we still need to accomplish.”
When you enter one of Woody’s bars, the floor will be clearly marked and you’ll have to use hand sanitizer. The doorman will greet you with a face shield.
In the meantime, other Austin attractions are swinging open their doors. The parking lot at Oasis at Lake Travis was packed for a sunny Saturday.
“We’re playing by the rules, we’re social distancing,” said Oasis at Lake Travis General Manager Jody Theriot.
At the Oasis, customers are required to enter the facility wearing a mask. In addition, staff members are wiping off the guard railing on all three open-floors every 30 minutes.
On a typical weekend, however, the Oasis would be home to thousands of people. Since opening, Theriot says numbers have been significantly lower.
“Our foot traffic has been greatly reduced. We just opened Wednesday. We usually have 10 to 12,000 people on any given weekend,” said Theriot.
This is why Bob Woody says he doesn’t feel like addressing capacity at his bars will be an issue.
“This is the entertainment district. It’s plenty big enough to handle the crowds when they come,” Woody said. “The crowds will start out slow. Let’s face it, the restaurants have suffered. We’re seeing that. We’re seeing that they’re slowly getting the customer base back.”