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Multiple SA establishments cited for not following city guidelines amid pandemic

One bar held a soft opening with a bigger turnout than expected. Another established sports grill was allegedly operating without a mask in sight.

SAN ANTONIO — While restaurants are allowed to operate once again in a limited capacity, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is still determining when bars can safely open their doors. But San Antonio business owners have been cited for operating anyway.  

One owner said he would rather get the citation than shut down.

Cantina Sports Bar & Grill on Babcock Road posted a sign of a frown in front of his establishment after San Antonio Police cited his establishment this week. According to authorities, 50 people, including employees, were inside the bar without masks and without adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

According to the report, the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission license designating that 51% of the business's gross receipts come from alcohol sales was posted behind the bar, designating it as such and not primarily a restaurant. 

However, police said the owner of the bar told officers he can no longer afford to remain closed under the emergency declaration guidelines. He said he would rather receive citations and fight them in court.

Meanwhile, according to an SAPD report, a new San Antonio bar called Porta Rossa was also cited for violating the city's order. The city said the venue had a large number of people for a soft opening night party on Cinco De Mayo. 

Porta Rossa Owner Jon Onstead told KENS 5 they were only open for food and drinks to-go. But, he added, the turnout was beyond what they expected. Onstead said they were not trying to buck the law, and alleges they were providing hand sanitizer and enforcing social distancing by keeps tables six feet apart.  

"It is unfortunate," Nirenberg said in response to the news at his daily briefing Friday evening. "It is dangerous. We all have to work together. Businesses are being asked to follow these guidelines so they can open successfully."

County Judge Nelson Wolff said that if business owners aren't following the rules, he doesn't mind their lights being turned off. 

"You can cut it off," he said. "That's much better than to arrest someone."

"If the citations don't work, we will pull the ability to conduct business," the mayor added. "That is a right forfeited if they aren't paying attention to the governor's order or the local orders."

In terms of giving a warning or a ticket, the mayor said everyone should know better. He said it depends on the level of the violation and that officers have the discretion.

Cantina's owner told KENS 5 he wants to thank everyone who has supported the business.

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