HOUSTON - New cellphone video taken from inside Houston’s Prospect Park Restaurant is starting a conversation on social media.
The video shows dozens of people enjoying drinks and smoking hookah inside the business late Wednesday night. According to some online, they’re disappointed that many of the customers didn’t appear to be social distancing or wearing masks.
“It didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a pandemic at all,” said Paris Simone.
Simone recorded the trending video with her cellphone. Despite what some are saying online, she says she felt safe and would return to the restaurant for business. However, she says she took the video because she was surprised to see so many people.
“When you add alcohol, you kind of forget those safety guidelines in place,” said Simone. “You think, wow. This feels like how things used to be pre-COVID-19.”
On Wednesday, bar owners and bartenders protested outside the Texas capital building in Austin to push towards re-opening. While restaurants can open to 25 percent capacity, bars and clubs remain closed to prevent spreading Coronavirus COVID-19.
“They’ve had to go through this mental gymnastics of trying to reconfigure the way they operate so they could be able to re-open,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. “We will be able to make an announcement on Monday about this.”
Bars and clubs across Texas closed in mid-March because of the pandemic. On Thursday, we interviewed Darren Van Delden. Van Delden owns 12 bars throughout Texas including 77 Degrees in Houston’s Midtown.
“Normally there would be people here right now,” said Van Delden at 77 Degrees. “We just want to turn the lights on. We want to do it responsibly, just like everybody else wants to do.”
According to Van Delden, his company has been forced to lay off 450 employees statewide because of COVID-19’s impact. In addition, he says they’ve lost millions of dollars. Van Delden feels like they can safely open bars.
“There’s a lot of different things that we can do as bar owners, to really make it a safer environment for our customers,” said Van Delden.
“Nobody forced me to leave my house,” said Simone. “Nobody is forcing me to stay home. That’s every individual’s decision.”
Gyms and exercise rooms are able to open on Monday May 18th. Bar and club owners remain hopeful Governor Abbott will add their businesses to the list.