A packed pool party in Houston.
Busy beaches along the coast.
No social distancing or masks at bars in Austin and Dallas.
Even some of our elected officials remembered their masks but forgot social distancing. This was the scene at a Memorial Day observance in Houston.
It seems many in Texas were happy to throw caution to the wind in return for a good time over the long holiday weekend. It caused concern among others who fear the fun may lead to increased COVID-19 cases.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler urged social distancing as he tweeted out this video Saturday.
Please 6 foot social distance and wear a face covering to give the Governor’s reopening of the economy the best chance to succeed and last. pic.twitter.com/UxSFPNU8Wn— Mayor Adler (@MayorAdler) May 25, 2020
And this video of a pool party at Cle Houston caught the attention of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who tweeted: “You’re exposing everybody who’s there & they are exposing everybody.”
Not everyone agreed with the call for a more constrained approach to the traditional start of summer.
“I did…. I CHOSE TO LIVE LIFE and Be Social at clehouston and i take full responsibility of my actions – they are mine… I have been quarantining since the beginning of this man made pandemic and was well equipped,” tweeted FIYA – Ms Media Mogul.
Bars in Texas could reopen at 25% capacity, and restaurants were allowed an increase to a 50% capacity. In addition, the countertops that serve as the actual bar in a bar were supposed to remain off limits to customers who were to be served only tableside.
Turner had said Friday the city would not be enforcing the restrictions, citing a lack of previous support from the governor as the reason for standing down. But after seeing the Cle Houston footage, the mayor decided to have city fire marshals start enforcement.
“You are exposing everybody who is there, and they are exposing everybody who’s not there — who chose to do the right thing,” Turner said. “So your rights stop where my rights begin.”
Although he left it to the discretion of the fire marshals, Turner said actions could include everything from urging compliance to actually closing businesses down.
The threat worked at Cle Houston, which reportedly canceled another event it had planned for later in the weekend.
In all, more than 250 social distancing complaints were lodged with the city of Houston over the weekend.
A check of activity by the Dallas Morning News over the weekend uncovered similar problems. Many bars were trying to comply but finding customers making up their own rules and lining up at the bar to place orders, playing games and not bringing masks with them.
“Our plan was to mask up if a lot of people came in wearing masks,” Gemini Twin bar manager Chase Burns told the newspaper. “If you’re at a bar, you know what you’re in for; you either know the risks or you don’t think they’re real. So far, everybody here seems to be on the same page.”
The Texas Restaurant Association is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to allow them to increase capacity to 75%. The governor has not said when he may relax statewide restrictions even more. In making that decision, he will likely be watching what, if anything, happens to the state’s coronavirus numbers following the holiday weekend.
As of Sunday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 55,971 cases of COVID-19 in Texas and 1,527 deaths.