Texas and Florida bar owners close second time fears overwhelming impacts
Houston bars, co-owned by Scott Repass, were open about three weeks before the governor closed their business again in response to an increase in new arrivals. coronavirus case.
During the short time they were open, Repass said staff followed safety guidelines to the letter: they required customers to wear masks when moving around. They offered hand sanitizer at the door. Bartenders and waiters wore masks. No one met and almost no one used cash. But that did not prove to be sufficient.
Unsure of the duration of this second blow, Repass has now filed for unemployment. And he is not alone.
Bar owners across the state and in other parts of the country who have been forced into a second shutdown say they don’t know what this time around may look like – and whether they’ll be able to survive it.
In a press release on Friday announcing the bars should close again, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “It is clear that the increase in cases is largely due to certain types of activity, most notably Texans congregating in bars.” The move comes after the bars have been authorized to reopen on May 22, under the responsibility of the state second phase reopening.
Orders to close bars in several US hotspots come as some medical professionals have called crowded bar scenes across the country the perfect breeding ground for the virus.
AT at least 85 people have contracted the coronavirus after visiting a bar in East Lansing, Mich., earlier this month. In Louisiana, health officials say they have received at least 100 positive case reports people who have visited or worked in Tigerland bars in Baton Rouge.
At least one county in Idaho has moved back one step in reopening, announcing that bars and nightclubs would not be allowed to stay open after numerous new cases in the state were linked to people saying they had a night out. And in California, the governor ordered bars in seven counties closed on Sunday, days after saying an increase in cases was due to young groups and gatherings.
Second round for devastated Florida bars
When cases began to increase in Florida, the Volstead Bar in downtown Jacksonville closed for another deep clean, bar marketing manager Hana Ferguson said. All staff members have been tested for the virus, she added, and have been cleared.
“We barely survived the first shutdown and once we were cleared to reopen in Phase 2 we were very strict about following all CDC guidelines,” Ferguson said. “We had a hard time making ends meet, especially with all the rules that were put in place.”
And now they had no choice but to close their doors a second time after consuming alcohol on the spot. was hung up in bars across Florida.
Bars and nightclubs have been closed in mid-March. Like most counties in Florida entered the second phase of reopening on June 5, the bars were allowed to reopen, maintaining a 50% indoor seating capacity.
In an emergency order released last week, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced that bars can still sell take-out alcohol in sealed containers. The department said restaurants were allowed to continue serving alcohol.
“All they did was flip the switch,” says Paul Medrano, owner of two bars in Tampa. “So now you go from a bar to a restaurant that acts like a bar, so you don’t decrease the people who might be infected, because all they do is move them to another location.”
“None of this makes sense,” says Medrano.
Much like the other bars CNN has spoken to, Medrano says staff worked to enforce all safety precautions, even providing masks to incoming patrons who did not have them and keeping distances of at least six feet. between each table. But he says that was not the case in all institutions.
“It was, for me, the violators,” says the bar owner, of what caused the second shutdown. “It’s a bit like elementary school. One person is breaking the rules and everyone has to pay for it.
Behind every adjustment states have had to make to combat the spread of the coronavirus, bar owners say it was a devastating financial impact.
Staff are struggling to make a living, Ferguson says.
“For them, it’s their career. They risk everything to come back to work ‘to be forced to leave,’ she said.
But there is also the money used to keep the business alive.
Repass, of Houston, says when their bars were first closed during the initial lockdown, they spent thousands of dollars ordering the right equipment so they could sell their takeout. They’ve trained their waiters and bartenders to a whole different business model.
Then when the state started lifting the measures and bars were forced to open, Repass says bars invested more money into creating pleasant patios for patios to sit outside, as recommended by health officials. They retrained their staff.
And now, with stacking costs and tax deadlines looming, Repass is simply saying he’s hoping his state has at least hit its peak of new cases – a sign that would mean things could start to improve. soon.
Medrano in Tampa doesn’t see this second shutdown lasting less than two weeks.
“I would say my estimate is going to be a month, a month and a half and that… it’s going to be a pinch,” Medrano said.
‘It will hurt.’