SAN ANTONIO – Around the same time city and county officials announced a staggering a record-high of more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases, large crowds were captured on cellphone video this past weekend during a concert at Cowboys Dancehall.
Now, some concertgoers are scrutinizing the venue for allowing so many people inside at once.
“I know they were supposed to be operating at a much-reduced capacity,” said Howard Wilson, who went to the concert on Friday. “But even given how many people were there, I still feel like it still probably should have been reduced more.”
Wilson and others who attended the concert say the videos that have surfaced on social media do not show the whole picture.
“They had areas blocked off in between the stages,” Andre Garcia, who went to the concert on Saturday, said.
The exact number of people who attended this past weekend’s country music event is unknown. However, after receiving two citations for COVID-19 safety violations in October, staff said then that the county’s 50% capacity still allowed 2,800 people to be inside the venue at once.
Management vowed to be more strict with safety protocols in the future.
“You know, we think it’s a safe environment for our customers,” said Danny Perez, the dancehall’s spokesperson, on Oct. 12. “Come on out. Enjoy great music.”
The concertgoers KSAT spoke with say that staff members were checking temperatures outside and walking throughout the venue this past weekend to ensure people wore masks.
“The majority of people are trying to follow the guidelines from Cowboys’ Dancehall,” Garcia said.
That sentiment is why Garcia says he and Wilson say they felt safe enough to stay.
“I felt the area that we were in -- we were safe enough to where we can maintain that distance from other people,” Wilson said.
A San Antonio Police Department call log shows there were several calls over the weekend for complaints of violations at the dance hall. Police officers who arrived at the scene observed the venue and employees following the ordinance, so no citations were issued.
After Monday night’s broadcast aired, a city representative told KSAT that when Code Enforcement staff resumed work on Monday, they had a chance to review videos that surfaced over the weekend when the office was closed.
The city office has now decided to issue Cowboy’s Dancehall two citations for this past weekend’s events. City staff members say the venue has now received a total of seven citations for violating the COVID-19 safety ordinance since the pandemic began.
City officials wouldn’t specify how many more chances the venue gets but said if the violations continue, Cowboy’s Dancehall will have its certificate of occupancy revoked, which means it cannot legally operate.
Cowboys Dancehall staff have not returned our request for comments on this past weekend’s events.