Bar chooses to close after reports of COVID-19 close by

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston bar owner decided to shut down his downtown business after the number of COVID-19 cases linked to other bars and clubs kept increasing.

Owner, Michael Neff, said the decision to shut down the Cottonmouth Club came after he and his staff felt uncomfortable because they kept hearing about workers at other bars getting sick and not being reported.

"No bar is an island," Neff said. "I can be as safe as I can be and sanitized but if it's full of people who have gone off and done things in places that aren't being as responsible, then my risk is very far from zero."

Last week, several businesses announced they were temporarily closing because employees had tested positive for the virus. These closings come as Texas hit a record for most number of COVID-19 cases in one day.

Since the Cottonmouth Club is a neighborhood bar, the number of customers were restricted to only 17. Reservations, masks and social distancing were all required.

This week, one of Neff's employees learned he was exposed to someone with COVID-19. Neff and his staff are now awaiting the results of the tests they each took.

"We didn't reopen because we thought we were gonna make so much money and save our business," he said. "We did it to make sure people in the community could go somewhere and somewhere safe. And now, we can't even do that because there are so many people in this city who think they can go anywhere without a mask."

For now, Cottonmouth has a virtual bar on social media where regulars can still find a familiar gathering place amidst pandemic anxieties.

Follow Deborah Wrigley on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.