A local brewery and winery are ready to open their doors this weekend.

BS Brewing owner Brian Schmoekel and Blue Lotus Winery/Texas Mead Works owner Mike Poole said they’ve been preparing for the day they could open up their businesses.

That day was Monday as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the immediate reopening of business offices and child care facilities, with bars allowed to reopen under capacity limits beginning Friday.

BS Brewing and Blue Lotus Winery, like many other businesses, shut their doors in March following the governor’s shutdown order. So, the moment Schmoekel heard the news on Monday, he headed to his establishment and began dusting off the shelves and table tops.

“We are ecstatic,” Schmoekel said. “We’ve had a lot of people inquiring over the last two months. We love our customers and our customers love us, so we’re ecstatic to get them back out here.”

Restaurants are able to expand from 25% to 50% capacity beginning Friday under the governor’s new orders, which will be delayed by a week in counties surrounding El Paso and Amarillo, both current hotspots for COVID-19.

Bars, wine rooms and craft breweries will open at 25% capacity for indoor facilities, and unlimited to those with outside areas as long as they enforce social distancing guidelines.

“Texas is prepared to enter into Phase 2, and all decisions have been unanimously supported by a team of medical experts,” Abbott said. “That commitment to data and doctors underpins today’s announcement.”

Poole and his wife, Melissa, have spent the past couple of weeks preparing for the day the state would allow them to open their tasting room.

Sanitation is a priority, and while the couple bleaches and cleans throughout the day, they installed ozone machines to catch what the bleach may have missed at night, Poole said.

Both businesses know that they are limited on how many people are allowed inside and are ready to accommodate with outdoor seating.

“We’ve separated our tables outside 20 feet apart,” Poole said. “We do have curbside, and we’ll continue to offer that.”

Poole said his tasting room will open with a limited capacity of 24, and with social distancing measures in place it could be less.

Schmoekel plans to open and limit the amount of people inside the brewery, per the governor’s order. However, a majority of the establishment’s seating is outdoors.

“What we’re going to do is limit who can come into the brewery, we’re going to minimize that as much as possible and keep the line outside and just make sure people social distance as much as possible outside in the sun and let kids play out on the playground,” he said. “We’re glad people enjoy the beer, but we want to see kids outside, people outside having fun, staying safe and healthy. We’re happy to provide a venue to where people can do that safely.”

Both businesses are inviting guests to bring their own chairs and shade and enjoy the sunshine.

“We’re looking at the possibility of putting up some tents so people can be in the shade, out away from everybody,” Poole said. “We’ve already got it set up to where you can bring your picnic, bring your own shade, bring your own chairs, and sit in the vineyard.”

Melvin Voigt, owner of The Oak, said he too is ready to open his porch up for business.

With permission from a neighboring business owner, Voigt plans to expand his outside seating options to the east of the front door. He is in the process of determining how to open his doors while remaining in compliance with the governor’s order.

Reopening of entertainment venues such as ZDT’s and Schlitterbahn are still being studied, Abbott said. Tattoo and massage businesses will be able to open under personal services guidelines.

Abbott said effective Sunday, May 31, reopening will extend to bowling alleys, youth sports camps and little league facilities and games, summer camps and daytime and overnight camps for boys and girls scouting, vacation bible school and 4-H clubs. 

The governor also said some sports will return, listing golf, auto racing, baseball, softball, tennis and basketball, all under social distancing guidelines. He said public school districts have the option of starting summer school under social distancing measures on Monday, June 1.

Felicia Frazar is the managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at felicia.frazar@seguingazette.com . Will Wright from the New Braunfels Herald Zeitung contributed to this report.

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