Many Baton Rouge bar owners are planning to reopen their establishments later this week, when the parish is expected to meet the state’s Phase Three threshold for reopening bars. However, after being shut down for essentially six months, they doubt reopening so close to the fourth quarter will remedy the significant damage done to their industry in any meaningful way.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome on Monday, Sept. 28, requested the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control ease restrictions on bars and similar businesses once the Louisiana Department of Health reports on its website two consecutive one-week periods of 5% or less incidence of positive COVID-19 cases, which is expected to occur Wednesday.
Once “opt-in” status is granted, bars will be allowed to operate under eased restrictions outlined in the governor’s executive order, including:
• A 25% capacity limit indoors (or up to 50 people, whichever is less);
• Tableside service only;
• An outdoor capacity limit of 50 people;
• Alcohol sales ending at 11 p.m;
• A ban on live music.
However, stricter restrictions will resume if LDH reports two consecutive one-week periods of 10% test positivity.
“It’s too little, too late for a lot of us,” says Terry Sweatfield, who owns The Patio Lounge on Jefferson Highway and The Pour House on Drusilla Lane. “A lot of bars aren’t going to be able to reopen because they don’t have the money to. With 25% capacity and no bar seating, I might as well remain closed, but I’m going to try to open up the best I can.”
Read on for the rest of the story, which originally appeared in the Monday, Sept. 28, edition of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.