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Some Austin restaurants, bars will keep masking requirements, capacity limits when statewide orders lift next week

Two days shy of the one-year anniversary of Texas' first confirmed case of COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he will rescind statewide pandemic restrictions, including business capacity limits and mask mandates, next week. Although businesses—especially those tied to the hospitality industry—have suffered financially over the last year, many Austin establishments are rejecting Abbott's order.

Red River music venue Mohawk tweeted shortly after Abbott's announcement, racking up hundreds of likes and retweets.

North Austin brewery 4th Tap Brewing Coop "will continue to operate at a limited capacity for the time being with social distancing measures in place," according to a recent tweet. "And as part of our dress code, we will require that you continue to wear a mask while not seated. Our staff will continue wearing masks as well."

East Austin's Yellow Jacket Social Club posted on Instagram, saying it will continue to enforce masking for all patrons and staff. The bar also quoted Abbott, who said "businesses don't need the state to tell them how to operate" as part of his announcement.

Better Half Coffee & Cocktails, near Clarksville, also took to social media to reiterate its masking mandate. "CANT BELIEVE I AM POSTING THIS A YEAR IN GIVE US A BREAK," the business wrote, adding in response to a comment about capacity limits that its indoor dining space will remain closed.

Better Half's sibling business and Rainey Street food truck Bummer Burrito had a similar response: "FYI WE ARE STILL IN A BIG OL PANDI K THX."

Southern Heights Brewing Co. chimed in, too.

Austin Beerworks said in a tweet that the governor's announcement will not impact its taproom policies—including outdoor-only service and required masking for all customers when not at their tables—which have been in place since late July.

Epoch Coffee, which has four locations around Austin, will continue to require people be masked when ordering and picking up their coffee.

Local businesses weren't the only ones to take issue with Abbott's announcement. Although new COVID cases and related hospitalizations continue to trend downwards locally, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said lifting the mask mandate too soon could lead to another surge. "My hope is that the mask mandate will continue at least through the end of April to allow us to ride this curve down," he told Austin City Council members and Travis County commissioners Tuesday morning.


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