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People visit bars, other Austin businesses over Labor Day weekend

Austin Public Health is hoping people continue to take precautions during Labor Day weekend to prevent another surge in COVID-19 cases.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austinites – along with people visiting from out of town – seemed to not shy away from visiting reopened bars and other businesses over Labor Day weekend. 

Austin Public Health warned people last week to take caution, hoping the public continues follow safety guidelines during Labor Day weekend to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

"I know we want to celebrate ... we want to be out this holiday weekend with family and friends but if we take too much risk with the start of opening with schools, we'll pay for it in two-to-three weeks," said Austin Public Health Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott last week. "Again, we've seen families devastated across this country over and over again by these big gatherings around holidays or celebrations. The virus isn't gone. It's still here."

On Saturday night, groups of people flocked to Rainey Street as some bars reopened. On Sunday, people were back on Rainey Street, making "on and off" lines outside of places like Unbarlieveble and Bungalow. 

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has allowed bars to apply for a restaurant certificate in order to allow them to open. But technically, they'd have to operate as a restaurant. TABC has also allowed bars to sell pre-packed food to help meet the restaurant requirement.


Credit: Jackson Grimm
A line on Rainey Street Saturday night.

Some people from out of town visiting Austin told KVUE on Sunday they felt comfortable going out to some spots because of the safety measures in place. 

“I think we’re kind of ready for next year to get back to norm," Alyssa Bradley told KVUE.

Bradley was visiting from Odessa and believes the right safety measures are being taken in Austin-area businesses.

“I’m just happy that businesses are back open ... everyone is trying to get back to normal lives," said Bradley. 

Others from out of town, like Sam Snipes from Houston, Texas, and Terrell Robertson from Memphis, Tennessee, also felt comfortable going out. 

“I think they’re doing a great job because they’re making everybody wear a mask," Snipes said. 

Credit: Luis de Leon
Inside Bishop Cidercade, an arcade and cidery located on Riverside Drive next to Lady Bird Lake.

Some businesses that opened during the pandemic have implemented a long list of safety measures to try to keep it's customers safe. 

Bishop Cidercade, an arcade and cidery with an outdoor patio overlooking Lady Bird Lake, opened just a few weeks ago. They're located on Riverside Drive where the old Joe's Crab Shack location once was. 

Masks are required inside, and they're now operating at 50% capacity. They originally started off with operating at 33% capacity.

“Just to make sure we were being super safe around here," said co-founder Joel Malone. 

Hand sanitizer is placed everywhere in the building, and there are two employees designated for constantly wiping down games, according to Malone.

They also use ultra low-volume foggers with disinfectant to help with sanitizing the games. 

“It’s something everyone has to think of the situation and make a decision for themselves like, 'Hey, if people don’t feel safe, by all means they should stay home,'" Malone said. “Everyone has to kind of figure out you know what’s best for them.”

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