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Bar owners expect costly stops and begin when states close them again

People are queuing up to enter a restaurant on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020.

Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images

The list is getting longer.

Governors in Michigan, Florida, Texas, California, Colorado and Arizona close thousands of bars again before the Fourth of July weekend as Covid-1

9 cases in those states grow.

For bar owners, the reconstruction has sowed confusion and stress and threatens the survival of their businesses. Many used their much needed cash to open again, only to close again days or weeks later.

“Stop and start costs thousands of dollars for each company,” said David Kaplan, co-owner of Death & Co, a cocktail lounge with locations in Los Angeles, Denver and New York.

The Texas Bar and Nightclub Association is suing the state over Chief Executive Greg Abbott’s decision to close bars for the second time in three months. Dozens gathered in Austin to protest the reconstruction.

As the United States sets record highs for new cases in a single day, other states are slowing down their efforts to reopen their economies. New Jersey and New York City have both indefinitely pushed back the indoor dining room.

Viral videos posted on social media show consumers packed inside and outside bars across the country. At the same time, several outbreaks have been linked to local bars, including nearly 140 cases in East Lansing, Michigan.

Kaplan said that bars that do not implement social distance measures make it more difficult for bars and restaurants that try to be safe. But the financial stress of the crisis and limited guidance from authorities also pose a challenge.

“The guidance is so narrow, and then the enforcement is pretty non-existent, so it’s tough,” Kaplan said. “I think most people, if they don’t do things well, probably want to or they try, but it’s a completely different way of working.”

Only Denver & Death, Co, which technically operates as a restaurant, is open again. Kaplan’s team spent about $ 3,500 to open the Los Angeles bar before stopping plans when fall in California began to nail again. Govin Newsom closed bars and indoor food on Wednesday in 19 counties, including Los Angeles.

“We need to find an intermediate plan, because if we can’t find a way to open, we are facing permanent closure,” Kaplan said. “It’s not if and when we feel safe, it’s if and when we feel the risk is at an acceptable level and our team is comfortable continuing the reopening process. It’s a horrible decision, honestly.”

Todd Conner, owner of the Offbeat and The Good Nite bars in Los Angeles, said he was happy to be closed to community safety, but the city made the mistake of opening bars soon. Los Angeles cleared bars to open again on June 19.

“I think they jumped the gun here,” Conner said. “If they had waited, it would have saved me a lot of time and resources – resources that would have been better spent when the day opens again.”

When Los Angeles moves to open bars for the second time, Conner said he will continue with more caution.

“Through all the desired washing back and forth and bad decision, we start to lose confidence in the system, that they have their backs here,” he said.

Bars versus restaurants

Some bar owners criticized the decision to treat bars and restaurants differently, though many restaurants also serve alcohol to customers.

Todd Quigley owns Craft and Growler, a Dallas-based craft beer bar. While his facility also serves food, Texas classifies it as a bar. When the state opened the restaurants before bars, his sales went from about half the levels before the pandemic to about 10%. And now that the bars are closing again, that trend is reversing – and the money from his Paycheck Protection Program loan has run out.

“If we’re not the same as restaurants, I’ll be killed,” Quigley said, noting that he followed the Covid-19 protocol.

“It’s not a restaurant or bar classification, it’s ownership and management. And you have to turn off the places that aren’t doing it right,” he added.

In Florida, police told several restaurants that they had to close because they had bars, according to Carol Dover, CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“Most of the restaurants, unless you are quick service, will have a bar inside. And so, there was a lot of confusion on the law enforcement side that these bars need to be closed,” Dover said.

The reconstructions can also mean working with exercise. US unemployment fell to 11.1% in June, according to the Department of Labor, where the leisure and hospitality sector gained 2.1 million jobs – or about 40% of growth.

“I have to decide, do I stay open at all or not? I would rather do what I do and keep people from unemployment, but the state of Texas has put me in a very bad position,” Quigley said.

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