SAN ANGELO, Texas — Late Friday afternoon, Tom Green County officials announced that outdoor activities (including live music events) can continue at Cooper’s Bar-B-Q in Christoval. The move reverses this week’s order to suspend events.

“I don’t want to come between anybody and their income but I want them to be safe. What they had last weekend wasn’t safe,” said Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis.

This week Dr. Vretis ordered Cooper’s Bar-B-Q to suspend the live outdoor concerts that have attracted hundreds of people over the past few weeks. Dr. Vretis said he made the decision after attending a concert at the establishment last weekend and noticing a lack of social distancing in the crowd.

“I bought tickets for my wife and I. We went there on Saturday thinking we were gonna have this great show and instead of seeing social distancing, we saw large crowds with 50 people shoulder to shoulder,” added Dr. Vretis.

The establishment violated the governor’s order to request permission from a county judge to hold an outdoor gathering of 100 people or more.

“I have some authority to approve gatherings outside. Permission has not been requested from the Cooper’s. I will deal with that if it comes forward,” said Tom Green County Judge, Steve Floyd, on Friday morning, “Any order that restricts business and commerce and that tells someone what they can and can’t do is very uncomfortable to deal with.”

“The governor’s order says if you have an outdoor event with over 100 people, you need to get permission from your county judge. To my knowledge they had not sought permission from Judge Floyd,” added Dr. Vretis.

Late Friday afternoon, Tom Green County officials announced that outdoor activities (including live music events) can now continue at Cooper’s Bar-B-Q. That decision came after Cooper’s submitted an application for outdoor activities and agreed to enforce social distancing among the crowd.

Coopers Barbecue in Christoval Texas submitted application for outdoor activities including live music that has been approved by TGC Local Health Authority, Dr.James Vretis and Judge Steve Floyd pursuant to CDC guidelines. The implementation of control measures issued by Dr. James Vretis on August 13, 2020 are hereby rescinded.

Judge Steve Floyd

Over the phone, Cooper’s Bar-B-Q owner Mark Cooper said the establishment has developed a detailed plan that includes enforcing social distancing and encouraging customers to wear masks, so they can continue to host the music events.

“We all need to work together,” said Cooper.

According to Dr. Vretis, it is crucial that the establishment follows through with their plan so they can stay in business.

“If they run it safely, I’d love to see them have the concerts. But they need to understand that this would be their third strike if it goes wrong. If it goes wrong, I’m not going to be looking at reopening,” said Dr, Vretis.

After news of Dr. Vretis ordering Cooper’s Bar-B-Q to suspend their events first came out, a picture of Dr. Vretis at the concert circulated social media, showing him at the venue without a mask.

“I tell people ‘wear a mask when in public.’ If you’re outside, over 6 feet away and with close family members, you don’t need a mask. I was outside, I was over 6 feet away from everybody and I was only with my wife. I was just doing what I tell people to do,” explained Dr. Vretis.

With students across the Concho Valley beginning school next week, both Dr. Vretis and Judge Floyd are concerned about people following social distancing guidelines and mask mandates so that the number of COVID-19 cases in the area doesn’t spike,

“Everybody’s through with COVID but COVID is not through with us yet,” added Judge Floyd.

According to Dr. Vretis, as of now there hasn’t been a large number of people who have contracted the virus by attending large gatherings.

“We just started asking ‘have you been at large gatherings?’ Because up to know there haven’t really been large gatherings,” explained Dr. Vretis.

“Bottom line is it’s pretty difficult for anybody to prove where they got COVID. They can suspect or think, but it’s very difficult to prove exactly where you got it,” said Judge Floyd.

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