Bar Owners Protest Phase Three Opening Guidelines In Front Of Federal Courthouse

Update (10/1/20):

Bar owners protested Phase three opening regulations in front of the federal courthouse in Charlotte on October 1st.

“Bars have been closed for over 196 days. that’s a half a year. We’ve got not revenue. We’re completely out of money. We’re out of time. We’ve got to do something,” said Zack Medford, the head of the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association.

On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced that bars could open beginning Friday under tight restrictions.

They are only allowed to serve alcohol outdoors and at 30% of the capacity.

“We were all looking forward to phase 3 and it really was kind of a slap in the face,” said Billy Dial, with Crown Station in Noda.

He says 75% of the bars in the state don’t have outdoor space to use. And the bars that do, would only be able to accommodate a handful of customers.

“We want to survive. Because a lot of people aren’t going to make it,” said Dial.

The Centers for Disease Control lists bars as high risk businesses for COVID-19 spread. State health officials say people crowded indoors drinking alcohol would lead to a surge in cases.

Breweries, restaurants, and country club bars are open with limited capacity for indoor customers. The bar owners protesting in Uptown say they should be allowed as well.

“It’s not a very big place, but we could open at 50% like everybody else and have people sit down. we could spatially distance people,” said Michaele Laria, the co-owner of Jeff’s Bucket Shop in Montford.

Phase 3 lasts until at least October 23rd. It’s unknown if there will be any changes to the bar restrictions at that time.

Original Story (9/30/20):

CHARLOTTE, NC –  Bars, movie theaters, and other indoor and outdoor venues will soon be allowed to partially open following an announcement from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. 

“It’s pretty ridiculous these criteria,” said Bob Klein, the owner of Stumptown Station in Matthews. 

He says the opening regulations under Phase three are a “slap in the face.” Saying he’d likely only be able to have about six customers at a time. 

“That’s not enough to even pay the server to wait on you, let alone keep the lights on and beer cold,” said Klein. 

With key metrics holding steady, Governor Cooper announced the move to Phase three beginning friday. 

“Phase three continues our state’s  dimmer switch approach to easing restrictions,” said Cooper.

Under the new order, small outdoor venues can open at 30% capacity or a max of 100 people. Movie Theaters can have an indoor capacity of 30% or a max of 100 people. 

And bars can open for outdoor service at 30% capacity. 

Health Officials say bars are high risk for virus spread because of the close contact and alcohol involved. 

“We want to balance being able to continue to make progress as well as being able to hold down this viral spread,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the North Carolina Health Director. 

Klein says bars should be treated like restaurants. 

“We just want a shot. That’s all we want. Give us a chance and we can show you we can do it just as good if not better,” said Klein. 

Other Charlotte area bar owners share similar frustrations. 

“The bulk of our business is inside. With people getting to know each other,” said Brian Wilson, the Co-owner of the Thirsty Beaver Saloon in Plaza midwood. 

“At 30% basically, I don’t even know if that gets you to tread water,” said Wilson.

He says he’ll look for a viable way to open up, while the community keeps him positive. 

“People have reached out so many times to say we want for you to be there. We  want for you to be back. If there is a way we can help. We want to help. That has been extra cool,” said Wilson.