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(Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

An unmasked employee at UnBARlievable on Rainey Street takes down social distancing signs around the bar as it is no longer enforcing COVID restrictions.

When Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate and said businesses could open at 100% capacity, some Austin bars rejoiced. For bars that have opened as restaurants for months now, however, shifting back wasn't something they felt ready for.

Going against the governor's wishes, Austin leaders are urging businesses to follow the local order that keeps the mask mandate even as Abbott's restrictions are lifted statewide. On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton even threatened legal action on the city if Austin continued to hold the order in place.

With tensions high and a city in limbo, Austonia staff visited several bars across the city to see how both businesses and customers have reacted. But it wasn't exactly the roaring 20's the day the order was lifted. Here's what they saw.


West Sixth Street

No mask in sight at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which had the most business on West Sixth. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Austonia's Reporter Laura Figi said that much of West Sixth Street was slow or empty, with one exception. While Kung Fu Saloon saw slow business with masked staff helping masked and socially-distanced customers, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was busy and crowded with no masks in sight, Figi said. Figi said other bars, including Buford's, Star Bar and Little Woodrow's, were pretty empty, as was much of the street. UnBARlievable, which seemed the emptiest of all, had a crowd of unmasked employees standing at the entrance, Figi said.

Rainey Street

Augustine's, which usually has crowds on the weekend, was "completely dead," according to Garcia. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

Austonia's Senior Producer Sonia Garcia said that Rainey Street had a calm Wednesday night. At Augustine's, staff were wearing masks but customers were not required to, Garcia found. Photos have shown this particular bar with crowds on the weekend, but Garcia said that the bar was "completely dead" on Wednesday.

Unlike its counterpart on Sixth, Rainey's UnBARlievable had a good amount of people, with employees telling customers they can take off masks as they walk in, Garcia said. Live music in the back attracted the most people sitting at tables. Garcia says she saw employees taking down social distancing signs at around 8 p.m.

At Craft Pride, temperatures were checked and masks were required, Garcia said. Garcia said she could tell that social distancing rules were still strictly enforced despite having a decent crowd there.

East Austin

Yellow Jacket Social Club had customers spread out outdoors. (Emma Freer/Austonia)

At both Yellow Jacket Social Club and ATX Cocina, everyone was wearing masks except for at tables, and everyone was socially distanced, said Austonia Senior Reporter Emma Freer. Freer said signs were posted at both locations, and ATX Cocina had a makeshift outdoor tarp area as well as dining inside.

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