Fresh on heels of Governor Abbott's announcement lifting the mask mandate on March 10, Houston bar worker Stacy Gouty said there was this immediate sense of "anger and confusion."

Gouty works at the downtown Houston cocktail bar "Two-Headed Dog," and he's concerned about the safety of bar workers after Abbott's revoking of the mask order.

"When I first woke up, I was initially feeling anger and confusion," Gouty told Chron. "I started to process it. It felt to me like it was just a reaction to appease his base. He's pretty much the first politician to lift the mask mandate."

One of the things Gouty says his friends in the bar industry have witnessed and experienced are acts of violence over the enforcement of masks. In December, an employee was attacked while working the door at the Grand Prize Bar.

"There's a certain level of aggression with it because people associate it with personal freedom," Gouty said. "For people in the bar industry, we don't look at it as personal freedom, we look at it as public safety."

Gouty feels that the announcement to lift the mask order has been an irresponsible move that could potentially endanger the bar staff and bar patrons at Two-Headed Dog and other Houston bars. The policy at Two-Headed Dog is that masks will be required for entry, Gouty said. If certain patrons decide not to wear masks at a Houston private business, they can be asked to leave, HPD Chief Art Acevedo said.

"It's going to embolden people to be resistant to wearing masks," Gouty said. "It could be dangerous for us. It will be dangerous for bar staff and people in the bars, too. I've definitely seen the resistance to masks."

"Mask-Off" parties have also become a hot topic. Washington Avenue club Concrete Cowboy announced it would throw a celebration in honor of the mask order being lifted. The bar has since canceled the party in response to negative publicity, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jasper Scherer

"The culture in those clubs has never cared in the first place," Gouty said. "A lot of the people in those clubs weren't even scared of COVID-19 when it was ravaging Texas. So as soon as the Governor said that, they said 'OK, we're gonna make some money off of it.' The bars in my community are struggling and taking it month by month. At my bar, they are conscious of safety protocols. We're just trying to stay alive."

Gouty said that there's been a sense of urgency to get COVID-19 vaccines for Houston restaurant and bar staff now, especially in light of the mask mandate being lifted.

"One of my good friends spent a day after the Governor's announcement trying to sign industry people up [for the vaccine]," Gouty said.

Gouty stressed that Texas should have waited on lifting the order since we're not out of the woods yet in the fight against COVID-19.

"We were almost getting our heads out of the water a little bit, and then Governor Abbott just threw another bucket in," Gouty stated. "It's ultimately a gigantic hypocrisy when we only have a little more than 5 percent of the Texas population vaccinated."

What Gouty's most worried about going forward is that dialing back the mandate could ultimately lead to customer conflicts.

"With the Governor lifting the mandate, it could lead to someone getting very angry and lashing out because they don't want to wear the masks because they were told by the Governor that they don't have to."