Texas bar’s ‘mask off’ party is ‘like pouring salt in a gaping wound for healthcare workers’ (Updated)

houston mask off party concrete cowboy
Photo via Concrete Cowboy/Facebook

A Houston nightclub planning a March 10 “mask off” party to coincide with Texas’ lifting of a statewide mask mandate has both public officials and citizens expressing concern over a potential superspreader event in the making. 

According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas State Rep. Ann Johnson, a Democrat representing a Houston district, “slammed the owners of Concrete Cowboy for planning an event [on March 10] to mark the end of COVID-19 protective measures, including restrictions on the number of customers and required masks when not dining.” 

The article continued, “She fears such a gathering, dubbed the ‘Mask Off Party’ in social media posts, could contribute to a COVID-19 surge in Houston.” 

Johnson joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other public officials and health experts at a March 7 press event just blocks from the nightclub, in an effort to discourage the establishment from its plan to hold the event. 

“They are planning to hold a large ‘mask off’ party,” Johnson said, “where for hours indoors—drinking, dancing, shouting at one another—they will incur the additional risk that we see for this COVID-19 pandemic.” 

“We have suffered nearly 45,000 deaths directly attributal to this virus,” Dr. Christina Propst, a pediatric physician with Memorial Hermann Health Systems, said at the press event, referencing Texas’ numbers. “Mask-off events celebrating the reckless, if not negligent acts of COVID-19 prevention measures is like pouring salt in a gaping wound for healthcare workers in this city.”

Then, speaking in a relatable football analogy, she added, “In Texas terms, it’s like celebrating a fumble in the red zone when the winning touchdown is just within reach.” 

“For an establishment I think to host a party and advertise it publicly is a slap in the face to healthcare workers who are on the front lines watching and seeing death every single day,” Houston resident Brittany Vasquez said in an article posted on KPRC-TV’s Click2Houston.com website.

That story included an ad for the shindig, which touted $100 bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne and $150 bottles of Grey Goose vodka among its mask off party offerings. 

The Chronicle noted that Mike VanDusen—the president of the Washington Avenue Coalition-Memorial Park, the neighborhood where Concrete Cowboy is located—said the bar has received a number of complaints.

He added that the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, which oversees bars in Texas, closed the club at least twice in 2020 for violations, with the most recent closure lasting at least 60 days.

Eventually, though, the party was canceled amid the public pressure.

Sources: Houston Chronicle, Click2Houston.com

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