DALLAS — It was a Saturday celebration in the Bishop Arts District, where the music was loud, the sun was out and the businesses were busy.
“It’s great to see some normalcy come back to the neighborhood,” said Cody Ellison, who owns several businesses in the area.
While some shoppers told WFAA they’re excited to stop wearing masks and crowd businesses to capacity, Ellison said he wasn’t ready to drop COVID-19 safety restrictions just yet.
“Personally, at our stores, we think it was a little bit premature to remove the mandate,” said Ellison.
Just days earlier, Governor Greg Abbott announced the statewide COVID-19 mask mandate would be lifted and businesses would be free to open at 100 percent capacity.
The move drew criticism from North Texas health officials, including Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.
“Certainly we’re making progress with the vaccinations,” Huang told WFAA. “But we're not there yet. We've seen what can happen before things open up too quickly.”
Abbott insists the time is right as more than 10 million Texans have recovered from COVID-19 so far, and the state is giving out more than one million vaccines a week.
Ellison co-owns Home on Bishop, Bishop Street Market, Ellison Valencia art gallery and Houzz on Bishop furniture.
Sales were down 30% to 40% in 2020, Ellison said. While he’s eager for sales to recover, he’s not ready to ease restrictions and will continue to require masks for workers and customers.
“People are ready to get out,” Ellison said. “They’re ready to spend money. We just need to do it safely. We need to be smart about it.”