West Odessa bar owner is fighting the state’s shutdown: ‘We are going to starve,’ she says
(CNN) - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week order bars in the state to reclose. But that’s not stopping the owner of a bar in Odessa from welcoming customers during the July 4 holiday weekend.
"The government has no business telling us how to deal with our health. That's what we're here for," Gabrielle Ellison, owner of Big Daddy Zane's, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday.
Several bar owners in the state, including Ellison, are suing Abbott after he ordered bars to reclose June 26 as the state's number of Covid-19 cases skyrocketed.
Ellison’s customers “also have their rights,” she said. “I’m not going to take theirs away from them like mine are being taken away right now.”
Texas recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 cases yet on Tuesday. The state is one of 25 recording an increase of between 10% and 50% in cases over the past seven days when compared to the previous week.
In the lawsuit, the bar owners claim the order violates the state's constitution by depriving them of their "liberty or freedom to operate their businesses." They also say the Governor is picking "winners and losers" by allowing hair salons and other businesses to remain open.
Health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have pointed out the specific dangers bars pose during the pandemic.
"Bars -- really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that," Fauci said at a hearing Tuesday.
Other states are pulling back on reopenings
With virus cases surging in many parts of the country -- 37 states are seeing increases in the past seven days over the previous week -- at least 22 states have rolled back or paused reopening businesses. Florida has stopped the on-premises sale of alcohol, and California has ordered bars closed in seven counties.
There are more than 2.65 million Covid-19 cases in the United States, and at least 127,681 people have died. Texas now has the fourth-largest number of cases, with at least 164,497.
When asked about putting customers and employees at risk during the pandemic, Ellison pointed out the economic hardship the shutdowns have caused her and others. If she didn't defy the order to close, she would lose her bar, and her employees would not be able to eat, Ellison said.
"People are going to die because of the economy," she said.
Bar owner: 'We are going to starve'
"We are going to starve. You might be able to eat steak, and everybody else... But you can't tell me it's not essential that I feed my family," Ellison added.
"This is not going to go away. We have got to learn how to live with it," she said. "And what I do care about it is that their children eat. I care about that they're able to pay their house payments and they're not out on the streets," she said of her employees.
Defending her plan to hold a family-friendly event on July 4, Ellison said children were welcome. Because of shutdowns, "these children have nothing to do," she said. "What about them poor children?"
“If you want to stay home, stay home. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t come out. Do not put this on the bars,” Ellison said.
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