‘This is not what we want’: Bar owners react to Bexar County Judge’s decision to reopen bars

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced that bars could re-open as early as next week

Bars will be allowed to reopen under new restrictions amid pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – Bars are set to reopen but under new regulations. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced that local bars can reopen at 50% capacity.

A COVID-19 community response coalition suggested a total of eight recommendations to the judge because they felt the governor’s order was not enough. The judge accepted seven of those recommendations, which will go into effect once bars reopen.

Most of the 3,000 bars in Bexar County reopened as restaurants. Bar 1919 is located off Alamo Street and is just one of 425 in the county that has kept its doors closed.

Bars have been closed throughout the summer after a surge of COVID-19 cases in Texas. Citing a drop in hospitalizations, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order earlier this month that allowed county judges to open bars, provided a county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations make up less than 15% of hospital capacity.

Owner Don Marsh said the damage is done and he is unsure if business will ever be the same.

“We’re the scapegoat for this stuff. Why take away our livelihood?" said Marsh.

The business faced a financial setback when doors closed in late March. When bars do reopen, they must stop serving drinks by 11 p.m. under the governor’s order, which Marsh said is peak business hours for most bars.

He believes bars are unfairly targeted, while bars that have reclassified as a restaurant can stay open later. Marsh said the judge’s decision doesn’t fix his business problems.

“Now we’re having to catch up after not working for six months and this is what you’ve given us? This not what we want,” he said.

David Naylor is the bar manager at the Modernist off East Grayson Street. Naylor calls the last few months challenging, but many are doing what they can.

“For me it’s understandable, for others it’s not," said Naylor.

The bar has been offering only food and beverages to go for the last several months. Naylor is unsure what business will be like once they do that.

He wants bars to be a fun and safe place.

“We’re going to continue to maintain safety protocols and we’re going to continue that until we have to," he said.

The judge said bars are expected to open next week.

Related: When will bars reopen in Bexar and 13 surrounding counties?

About the Author:

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter in the weekday mornings at KSAT 12.