Tarrant County bars have the green light to reopen after months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some bar owners are expressing relief to run their businesses again, but some doctors are warning people it's still too risky to go out because of spikes in new cases of COVID-19.
Sheela Marshal's small bar at Texas Live! in Arlington opened just before the pandemic hit North Texas in March.
Marshal cried when she heard bars were required to close because she worried for her staff.
"They basically live on tips and now here it was all shut down,” she said.
Marshal said the closures have left her broke. She initially believed her line of tequila products would keep her afloat while her bar remained closed, but she wasn't able to receive shipments from Mexico because the border was closed.
She needs the business from reopening but worries about how she will be able to protect her customers.
"Some people are ready to come out and some are scared. I have friends that still won't come out,” Marshal says.
Dr. Jill Waggoner, a family medicine physician, said it's hard to keep physically distant at bars.
Health officials recommend people wear masks, regularly wash their hands and stay 6 feet away from others in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"They are close together. They are drinking alcohol. They are speaking louder, so they are expelling more droplets," Waggoner said of people in bars, which is "an environment that could really foster the spread of the disease."
Waggoner said she worries about the burden more cases could put on health care workers.
Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
On Oct. 9 in the North Texas region, 6.4% of hospitalizations were COVID-19 patients. As of Thursday, that percentage increased to just over 8%, according to statewide health data.
"When we think about we want to go out and have a drink, doctors can't even take a weekend off because they are trying to save people's lives,” Dr. Waggoner said.
The doctor acknowledges that businesses need to make money and people want to go out.
“When you are young you want to live," Waggoner said. "We all want to but I want you to really live so that you will be alive for the future."