Two popular LGBTQ venues in Houston, Texas, have temporarily shut their doors again after multiple staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Christopher Barry, the owner of one of the bars, took to Facebook yesterday to explain the situation. His venue, Buddy’s, in the Montrose ‘gayborhood’, reopened May, 22, following the lifting of hospitality restrictions.
The bar – particularly popular with the local bear community – took steps to implement social distancing, including spacing tables throughout its parking lot and taking people’s temperature upon entry.
Eager customers quickly returned to take advantage of the bar’s regular events, such as its popular steak night.
Barry said that out of the 27 employees the bar had pre-lockdown, only nine were able to return to work when the bar reopened.
“We just learned that five of them have tested positive for COVID-19. I’m one of those people,” said Barry. “I don’t have an elevated temperature. I’m asymptomatic. I have a cough every once in a while. Still, it feels the most responsible thing to do to close the bar down for today, allow it to be deep cleaned by a professional service and then have all of the employees tested before returning to work.”
He also posted a link to local testing services if any worried patrons wish to get tested.
“This is the new normal … until herd immunity happens, most likely we’re all going to be exposed to COVID,” he said.
He went on to say that, “I feel perfectly fine, but it affects people in different ways, so be safe out there.”
The bar is situated in an area dubbed the “fruit loop”, which has other LGBTQ businesses. Some customers go from bar to bar. Barry says, “I’m sure we’re not the only facility that needs to introduce a mandatory COVID test before the employees return to work, so just be aware of that and stay safe, continue wearing your mask, exercise social distancing, and I’ll see you guys soon.”
The video prompted a large number of comments, with many praising Barry for acting quickly to close the bar and being transparent with his customers about the situation.
Shortly after Barry’s video, another Houston venue said it was also shutting its doors because of staff testing positive for COVID-19.
In a message posted yesterday to the Facebook page of Blur Bar, management said: “We value the safety of all of our customers and accordingly we have decided to close the club for UP TO two weeks due to some members of our staff having tested positive for the Coronavirus. We will be deep cleaning during this period to make the club safe for your return. Please see our Facebook page for updates as to re-opening.”
Houston residents were placed under stay-at-home orders in April but these were lifted in early May, with restaurants then allowed to open at 50% capacity and bars at 25% capacity from May, 22. The move came as part of Texas governor Greg Abbott’s “Open Texas” plan.
At the time of writing, the US has had 2.14million confirmed coronavirus cases and 117k deaths, with just under 2,000 of those in Texas.