Deep Ellum is buzzing again, but some worry the fun won’t last amid coronavirus pandemic

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The popular Dallas neighborhood is coming back to life, but some worry patrons and businesses aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously

DALLAS — Cars lined the streets and the sidewalks buzzed with pedestrians the first weekend bars reopened in the popular Deep Ellum neighborhood. However, some worry the fun won’t last if businesses, residents and visitors don’t take COVID-19 seriously. 

Dallas County reported 8,649 COVID-19 cases and 210 deaths as of May 23. The global pandemic sparked state and local orders requiring limitations and closures of businesses like bars and restaurants in March.

On Saturday, Deep Ellum appeared busier than it had in months, the day after Texas bars were allowed to reopen.

RELATED: Reopening in Texas: Here’s everything opening for Memorial Day weekend

The foot traffic is a good sign for businesses like Artistic Encounter Tattoo, which reopened the same week. 

“It’s a huge relief to be back in the studios, getting everything rolling,” said Billy Jack Gunter, owner.

Customers must wear masks, visit the studio alone, use hand sanitizer and get their temperature taken before getting tattooed. 

Most of the guests appreciate the attention to detail, according to Stephanie Gunter, cosmetic tattoo artist and Billy Jack’s wife.

“They feel safer in here than going to the grocery store,” Gunter said.

RELATED: Tattoo studios better prepared for COVID-19 than businesses that have already reopened, owners say

While the neighborhood coming back to life is a welcome sight, Gunter worries other businesses and the guests that visit aren’t taking social distancing and prevention measures seriously.

“We have to go back to living life, I agree 100 percent, but we’ve got to be cautious of how we’re doing it,” Gunter sad. 

Earlier in the week, Eric Johnson, Dallas mayor laid out a similar warning.

“I am going to caution our residents again that reopening is not a return to normal,” Johnson said. “We are still in the middle of a pandemic… We are identifying hundreds of new cases every single day. People are still dying.”


Gunter worries if people get too comfortable too soon visiting area businesses, the vibe in the neighborhood might not last. 

“The biggest fear I have is if there is a bigger outbreak or something happens, then we’re all going to probably get shut down again,” Gunter said.


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