‘Mask Off’ party at Texas bar canceled after officials voice criticism

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Mike Stunson
·2 min read
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A “Mask Off” party scheduled this week at a Houston bar has been canceled after demands from elected officials.

The event at Concrete Cowboy was scheduled for Wednesday, the day the statewide mask mandate ends, state Rep. Ann Johnson and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a joint statement.

Johnson called the party “dangerous, irresponsible and a slap in the face to frontline health care workers.”

“This is unquestionably a super-spreader event that will literally kick off the fourth surge of COVID in our Houston area,” Johnson said during a news briefing Sunday. “It will endanger the lives of these health care workers, those who work in the nightclub, the customers and the community members in this neighborhood.”

The bar eventually removed the “mask off” phrasing from its fliers and replaced it with “industry night,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

By Monday evening, the event had been canceled altogether.

“I appreciate the owners of @ConcreteCowboyH for putting the safety of their employees and guests as a top priority,” Turner tweeted. “Today, they wrote to me stating they would cancel the mask off party that was scheduled for this Wednesday.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week his decision to lift the mask mandate and reopen the state. Abbott’s move has been met with pushback from Democratic leaders in the state, including Turner.

Turner asked Abbott to reverse his move and keep the mask mandate in place.

“Nobody wants businesses to close. I want businesses to stay open. I want them to take care of their families. I got that,” Turner said Sunday. “But this order does not help business. It will create chaos, conflict and confusion.”

Businesses can choose to keep COVID-19 policies in effect. Some major businesses, including Target, Kroger and Alamo Drafthouse, have opted to still require customers to wear masks, McClatchy News reported.

Turner read Concrete Cowboy’s letter during a briefing Monday.

“Mayor Turner, it was never our intention to host a party where we encourage patrons to not wear a mask,” he read, shown in video from KTRK. “Public safety is our top concern and we will always place health and safety ahead of projects. That being said, we are not only canceling the party, but we will not be opening Concrete Cowboy on Wednesday night to prevent any exposure to COVID-19.”

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