According to a post today (Monday, March 8) on social media by Lee Daugherty, owner of Alexandre’s, Dallas’ LGBTQ bars are choosing to follow the science, not partisan politics, when it comes to taking precautions against COVID-19.

Daugherty said that a a number of “Oak Lawn bars” met via Zoom today and all agree to “hold the line with previous health precautions for the time being” in terms of requiring customers to wear masks and observe proper social distancing guidelines, even though Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that he would be lifting his statewide mask mandate and allowing all businesses to open back up at 100 percent capacity, effective Wednesday, March 10.

“We listen to health professionals, not politicians down here,” Daugherty said in his post. “Thank you Caven Enterprises [TMC and JR.’s are currently open, while Sue Ellen’s and S4 remain closed], Round-Up Saloon, Pekkers, Hidden Door and Alexandre’s for putting safety first.

“Stay safe, y’all,” he added. “Sign up for your vaccine, and let’s crush this.”

Cedar Springs Tap House manager Tanner Roberts had previously announced that the restaurant/bar on The Strip would continue to required employees and customers to mask up and observe social distancing. Hidden Door President Harvey Meissner announced last week that the Door would remain closed until management felt health professionals had deemed it safe enough for them to re-open. And Jeffrey Payne, owner of Dallas Eagle, had announced in February that his bar would remain closed until moving to a new location, with re-opening expected in early 2022.

In Fort Worth, a spokesperson for The Urban Cowboy Saloon said that bar would continue to require employees to wear masks and would encourage patrons to stay masked up and practice social distancing. And Kelly Smith, owner of the popular Tommy’s Hamburgers restaurants, said they, too, will continue to follow the safety precautions. “For the safety of our staff and customers, we will continue to require our staff and customers to mask up at all three locations of Tommy’s,” Smith posted on social media. “We will continue to follow the CDC guidelines. This pandemic is far from over, but things are starting to improve, so y’all continue to wear a mask and stay safe!”

Bob Baulsir, president and CEO of Trinity Metro, said employees and passengers of Trinity Metro will continue to be required to “comply with federal regulations to help keep everyone protected.”

Since announcing last Wednesday, March 3, that he would be lifting the mask mandate and occupancy restrictions this week, Abbott has been the target of widespread anger and ridicule. Many people have suggested that lifting the restrictions was an attempt by the governor to take attention away from his and other state officials’ abject failure when Winter Storm Uri left hundreds of thousands of Texans without power and safe drinking water for days. Memes on social media have accused Abbott and the GOP of trying to kill Texans “one way or another,” and one popular meme suggested that the “the only things NOT open in Texas are the science books.”

A statement issued last week by National Nurses United summed up the scientific community’s response to Abbott’s decision to lift restrictions:

“We are appalled that Gov. Abbott could take such an ill-advised step at a time when people are still dying, and the virus continues to spread throughout Texas, including in communities where our members live and work,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “For the highest public official in the state to tell people to ignore all precautions will only result in avoidable increased pain, suffering, and deaths. It is a shockingly irresponsible decision.”

According to the most recent numbers available from Texas Health and Human Services, as of 2:25 p.m. today, there have been 2,322,728 cases of COVID-19 confirmed over the last year in Texas. As of last Friday, March 5, there have been 44,134 fatalities in Texas from COVID-19. Within the last 24 hours, there have been 1,084 new cases confirmed and 32 new fatalities reported.

— Tammye Nash