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Houston politicians denounce Washington Avenue bar's controversial mask-off party

Houston politicians denounce Washington Avenue bar's mask-off party

mayor sylvester turner hat press conference
Mayor Sylvester Turner says parties such as Concrete Cowboy's pose "a serious risk.” Photo via ABC13 video capture
Concrete Cowboy Mask off flyer
A flyer announcing the controversial party.  Concrete Cowboy/Instagram
mayor sylvester turner hat press conference
Concrete Cowboy Mask off flyer

UPDATE: Mayor Sylvester Turner announced at a press conference that Concrete Cowboy has canceled the party and will not be opening on Wednesday, March 10, ABC13 reports.

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Local politicians denounced a Washington Avenue bar’s plans to host a Mask Off party on Wednesday, March 10. District 134 State Representative Ann Johnson, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and others called on Concrete Cowboy to cancel the event.

“This super-spreader event is literally the kickoff to a fourth COVID-19 surge in Houston and will endanger the lives of frontline health care workers, neighbors, club staff, customers, and our entire city,” Johnson said. “It must be canceled.”

The bar circulated a flyer on social media for a “Mask Off Party” to be held on the day that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will end capacity limits and his statewide mask orders. After widespread attention, the bar has rebranded the event as an “Industry Night,” but it appears some sort of festivities will still take place.

Turner acknowledged that Abbott’s authority prevents local leaders from shutting the bar down. Still, he called on Concrete Cowboy to reconsider.

“What I would say is not to do it,” Turner said. “Don’t treat the virus as if it no longer exists. Listen to all these healthcare professionals.”

"Celebrating the reckless, if not negligent roll back of COVID-19 prevention measures, is like pouring salt in a gaping wound for healthcare workers in this city, in this county and in this great state," said Dr. Christina Propst, a pediatrician with Children's Memorial Hermann.

Turner also expressed concern that Houston will become a destination for events that are still illegal in other states that have yet to remove restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“That poses a serious risk,” Turner says. “This is just not the right time.”

Both Johnson and Turner thanks restaurants and bars that have chosen to continue enforcing mask orders despite the difficulty of having to do so without the weight of the government’s authority behind them. Some businesses reported receiving threats for their stance on the issue. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has stated that customers who refuse to comply with a business’ mask policy could be subject to arrest for trespassing.

Concrete Cowboy had its liquor license suspended by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission from November 9, 2020 until January 7, 2021 due to a violation, online records show. The bar was also in the news last month when a jury awarded Kacy Clemens, son of former Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens, and Roger's godson, Conner Capel, $3.24 million for injuries they sustained from Concrete Cowboy’s bouncers.