Nationwide criticism directed at Houston club after hosting crowded concert

New videos taken from a Houston nightclub Friday night are gaining criticism nationwide.

The videos, posted publicly to Snapchat and Instagram, show Cle Houston packed with people.  On Friday night, Cle posted they were hosting a Bow Wow concert.

"The message for the state and for Governor [Abbott], is to not allow these bars and clubs to operate," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.  "[To] not allow them to re-characterize themselves as restaurants."

Bars and clubs in Harris County must remain closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.  However, many have applied for new licenses, allowing them to re-open as restaurants.

"I don’t care how you characterize it, I don’t care how you re-characterize it, it’s a social setting," said Mayor Turner.  "[They’re] also becoming super spreaders."

According to Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena, Cle has re-opened as a restaurant.

"We have 5 teams that will be responding to complaints and visiting certain clubs tonight," said Chief Samuel Pena.  "The TABC has allowed bars and clubs to remain open as they apply to transition from bars to restaurants.  The rules lift the requirement for an on-site kitchen and let bars count the sales from prepackaged food and food trucks as food revenue to raise their total revenue from food above 51%, which is the threshold needed to qualify for a food and beverage permit.  The Governor’s executive order prevents bars from reopening, but it allows restaurants to remain open at 50% capacity.  Still, bars that look to reclassify as a restaurant are required to follow the same restrictions that currently apply to restaurants. That includes mandating masks, limiting occupancy to 50% and following health and sanitation procedures. Many of these bars and clubs in this category are not following these requirements."

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Houston was last reported around 18 percent.

On Saturday, we interviewed Dr. Joseph Varon, Chief Medical Officer at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.  According to Dr. Varon, he has worked more than 300 days in a row treating COVID-19 patients. 

"We now have more than 40 percent of our patients on ventilators," said Dr. Varon.  "They come in that sick."

We showed the videos posted Friday night from Cle to Dr. Varon and asked him for his reaction.

"It is frustrating," said Dr. Varon.  "I’m not going to say heartbreaking, but it is annoying.  They’re coming back home to their friends, spouses, grandparents.  They’re going to get them infected.

Bow Wow posted to Twitter responding to complaints about his concert.  In one tweet, now deleted, Bow Wow said, "Man Texas is open.  ATL is open.  I can’t help I live in a city where we been open since last spring."

"I would tell people there last night to get tested," said Dr. Varon.  "Many of you are going to be positive.  I have no question in my mind about that."