Texas bars, bowling alleys and bingo halls reopen with restrictions

Texas enters phase two of reopening Friday as Governor Abbott strips away the lockdown he placed on the economy in response to COVID-19.

Restaurants can now expand to 50 percent capacity, and bars can reopen along with bowling and bingo.

Texas Star Bingo opened to a line of customers at the door Friday for the first time in about two months.

“It’s nice to get out,” said Mitch Smith who showed up at West Alabama Ice House Friday morning.

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He sat next to Rick Johnson who arrived at the bar as soon as it opened 10 a.m. Johnson counted down the days his favorite bar reopened.

“Sixty-seven days is a lot home,” said Johnson.

Texas bars were allowed to re-open at 25 percent capacity Friday.

West Alabama Ice House opened with restrictions, including caution tape around the bar itself.

“The CDC is actually not allowing us to serve from the bar, so we had to re-strategize and start doing table service which none of us had ever done here before,” said bartender Kali Whitmore.

“There’s about six of us,” said Smith. “We always mingle around this corner, but now you can’t do it.”

Phase 2 also means bowling alleys can reopen at 25 percent capacity.

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After being closed for more than two months, Emerald Bowl had customers waiting to get in when they opened their doors at 9 a.m.

“It was like, man, I just want to get out there and bowl-like every day,” said Randy Nguyen who brought friends and family to the bowling ally Friday. “It’s been so long, so it’s great to be out here.”

The alley adding safety measures, including only opening every other bowling lane.

“We have six sanitation stations set up now,” said Stephen Hofer, manager at Emerald Bowl. “We clean the bowling balls. We spray the shoes going out and coming in.”

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Freeways were busy Friday as Texans venture out of seclusion.

“I’m not saying that this is not a real problem in the United States, but I’m just saying you’ve got to live through this,” said Johnson.

Other sectors of the economy that the governor has allowed to reopen Friday include rodeos, aquariums, natural caverns, skating rinks, and simulcast racing.