Waco night life returns as mask mandate, capacity restrictions lift

George's has announced that masks are now optional for patrons of their restaurant but will be required for their employees. Cole Tompkins | Photographer

By Annaleise Parsons | Staff Writer

This weekend will be the first weekend Waco night life is able to reopen to its full capacity since the Gov. Greg Abbott’s original order went into place.

Customers are no longer required to wear masks at some bars around Waco due to Abbott’s lifting of the mask mandate. Some locations have also opted to keep capacity lower than 100% and will make the decision to completely wave capacity restrictions at a later date.

At The Backyard Bar Stage and Grill, masks are not required for customers or employees but social distanced seating arrangements will stay the same due to concerts and prepaid seating.

Hannah Rowe, a bartender at The Backyard, said employees will put on a mask to make guests more comfortable.

“When someone walks up to the bar with a mask on, we respect it so we put a mask on for them.” Rowe said. “… But it’s more like your personal choice.”

At George’s Restaurant Bar & Catering, masks are no longer required for customers but are still required for employees.

“We’re going to enforce all of our employees to keep wearing our masks for our safety and our guests’ as well,” Wade Canuteson, general manager of George’s, said.

Canuteson said masks are still recommended for customers, and they are not opening up dining to 100% business capacity.

“We encourage our guests to wear masks still. We are not enforcing … due to the mandate,” Canuteson said. “We’ve kept the restaurant the same, haven’t added any tables, kept everything six feet apart … to keep people safe.”

As the lifting of the mask mandate goes into effect, private businesses can still require customers to wear a mask and can refuse service. Houston Police Chief Art Avcedo, in an interview with CNBC, said more calls for police intervention with people not wearing masks in businesses are expected.

“If a business asks an individual to wear the mask and they refuse to leave, they can be arrested for criminal trespass.” Avcedo said.

Criminal trespass, according to the Texas Penal Code Title 7, Ch. 30, is an offense committed when “a person enters or remains on or in property of another … without effective consent.” More information about the law can be found here.