Bar industry, event workers feeling mixed emotions ahead of Wednesday’s statewide reopening


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Bars and restaurants across Central Texas are hiring bartenders, servers, basically any position they need ahead of the state’s full reopening on Wednesday. But there are mixed emotions from some in the industry ahead of then.

Some say Wednesday’s reopening will bring a much-needed boost to their industry and the local economy, while others say packed bars, alcohol and no masks could be a dangerous combination for them during a pandemic.

Frustration and confusion are the emotions Jeannette Gregor and some colleagues are feeling ahead of what she calls a nightmare that will start next Wednesday when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“I can’t stand behind my bar and say it’s a state mandate,” Gregor said. “I have to say that’s the position the bar I’m working in is taking, and now it becomes that much more of a debate.”

She’s the cofounder of Amplified Sound Coalition, an advocacy group for furloughed event workers and musicians. This Monday, they are heading to the Capitol with a plea to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“What we are asking for is to not reopen the state at 100% until a minimum of 70% of our essential workers are vaccinated,” Gregor explained.

Over at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, management is restructuring to accommodate nearly triple the crowd next week. They are hiring employees who took a financial hit during the pandemic.

“They’re excited,” said Austin Talley of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. “Operating at 35% capacity was really hard to make a living, and pay your bills. I know a lot of people who went into an enormous amount of credit card debt.”

Excitement for some and apprehension for others as uncertainty looms ahead of the state reopening.

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