SAN ANTONIO – As of this Wednesday, the mask mandate across Texas will be lifted, making it the biggest state to lift the order and in turn allowing businesses to decide what COVID-19 safety precautions to enforce.
The announcement was made by Governor Greg Abbott, who also stated that businesses can now run at 100% capacity.
While many businesses have decided to continue requiring masks for both customers and employees, one of San Antonio’s most popular bars is taking a bold stance to help their business survive.
Masks and socially distant tables will soon be a thing of the past at Hills and Dales Ice House on the city’s Northwest Side.
“You can now go (up) to the bar, order (and) sit at the bar,” said Justin Vitek, owner of Hills and Dales Ice House. “We haven’t gotten cited this whole entire time (by TABC or the city) so, we’ve been abiding by all the rules.”
Vitek admits he was surprised by the reversal of the COVID-19 mask mandate order.
“I think a lot of people would agree that it’s a little too soon for that, including myself,” Vitek said. However, the owner has opted to honor Abbott’s decision to give individuals a choice.
“If people want to come here (without a mask), we’re not going to turn them away,” Vitek said.
If the no mask requirement makes some customers uncomfortable, VItek said they have the option to choose a different establishment.
The downtown bar Social Spot announced it plans to carry on with their current COVID-19 safety protocols.
“I think it’s just too early to kind of, for us at least as a business, operationally and for our staff and for their families, for us to just really just kind of let it all go,” Sergio Acosta, owner of Social Spot, said.
Acosta’s bar has the advantage of being outdoors.
“About 90% of our establishment is all patio. So, we’ve been able to adjust and been able to really map safely (and) maximize our capacity,” Acosta said.
While the Social Spot’s seating will remain limited, Hills and Dales Ice House hopes he’ll have the luck of the Irish this month when it comes to an increase in customers.
“We’re going back 100%,” Vitek said. “We’re going to be pretty busy on the 17th (of March). That’s our busiest day of the year.”
To help those affected by COVID-19, Vitek said a donation of a nonperishable food item will replace the usual cover charge to take part in the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. All food items will be donated to the San Antonio Food Bank.
For a list of where other businesses in San Antonio stand on requiring masks for costumers and employees after March 10, click here.