NC Bar and Tavern Association calls governor’s Phase 2 extension ‘death warrant’ for local bars

Bars ask for data

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association is calling the state’s Phase 2 extension a “death warrant.”

"I remember slightly what it's like to sleep through the night, and not spending all day feeling like I was going to throw up," The Dog Bar owner Travis Bickford says. "But it was a long time ago. About 102 days ago."

Bars like his in North Carolina have been closed more than 100 days because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Many owners believe their businesses should have been included in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening. Now that phase is extended, and bars will be closed at least three more weeks.

"Three more weeks is a lot," Hattie's Tap and Tavern owner Jackie DeLoach says. "That's going on four months being closed as a small business, where our capital isn't great to begin with."

Bar staff like the one at Hattie's have been taking on projects, and inside improvements, but now they are concerned how much longer the doors can be closed, before closing for good.

"Rent's still due, utility's still due, insurance is still due," Zack Medford of the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association says. "Yesterday's announcement from the governor was effectively signing a death warrant for many bars across the state."

The association has requested data from the governor's office, asking why private bars specifically are not included in the current reopening phase, as some restaurants that operate with a bar atmosphere, are included.

"You don't have to necessarily order food when you go into these bars," Medford says "You can sit down and drink to your heart's content, you can stand up, walk around, you name it. But for us, we're watching our customers walk by our closed doors and into our direct competitors right next door, and that's really hard to stomach."

"If people want to go to bars, they're going to go to bars," Bickford says. "They're going to go to whatever's open. The logic of why you're taking 100 percent of that group and shoving them into 85 percent of possible establishments is where the logic makes no sense to me."

Meanwhile, these private bars are turning to the community through online fundraisers and events, trying to raise money to keep their businesses going.

"I've put my blood, sweat and tears into this place the past six years, and I'm still having to stay closed," DeLoach says. "But I also feel the pride and the love from our community."

Governor Roy Cooper says the state needs to work on getting numbers leveled out, and for people to wear face coverings in public.

He says he is hopeful he will be able to loosen some restrictions July 17, but has not said what that would entail, or if it would include opening bars.

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