Rollback: Bars closing, businesses forced to reduce capacity in Erath County as Covid-19 rages.


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


Erath County is among a North Texas rollback that calls for a reduction in business occupancy as new cases of Covid-19 and hospitalizations continue to rise.


That means non-essential businesses like restaurants, retailers, gyms, museums, libraries and manufacturing plants must reduce capacity from 75% to 50%.


The announcement was made Thursday night, and Erath County Judge Alfonso said he expects a notification from the state on when the new restrictions will go into effect today (Friday).


Stephenville’s health authority Dr. Kelly Doggett told Beneath the Surface News that while he welcomes the rollback, he is not convinced it will do much to stop the spread.


“I’m not sure it will really affect much because more than 2,800 bars have been reclassified as restaurants in Texas and I don’t know of anyone checking capacities at restaurants or other affected businesses either,” Dr. Doggett said. “It seems like the further we get into the pandemic, the worse it gets. We just really are not doing anything about it anymore.


“We’re depending on people to police themselves and most people just don’t seem to care.”


On Friday, Erath County officials reported 27 new cases; 17 in Stephenville, one in Dublin and nine in the county.


That brings the current number of active cases (that are known) to 326 and 80 total hospitalizations.


Stephenville’s Hearsay Wine Bar and Bull Nettle are among the bars that are now classified as restaurants and will get to remain open.


Bull Nettle owner Court Cole said Friday that he is committed to following the new guidelines to keep patrons safe and the doors open.


“Our occupancy at 75% is 108 people and that’s not including the outside patio,” he said. “Last weekend we showed the Mike Tyson fight and stood at the door and counted 95 people, and everyone stayed seated.”

As the state grapples with how to regain control of the spread, Dr. Doggett is urging the public to get back to wearing masks, social distancing and taking other precautions so that we can return to normal sooner rather than later.


“Now is the time to hunker down and get serious; do everything we can,” he said. “Now is not the time to relax.”