Bars that don't serve food can't reopen under new COVID-19 guidelines
COLUMBIA — Bars will not be able to reopen under Columbia and Boone County's new COVID-19 guidelines, despite the easing of restrictions on other restaurants, Stephanie Browning, Director of Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, announced on Thursday.
“No bars," Browning said. "We're keeping the playgrounds closed for now, all those things are going to be closed a while longer."
Bars that consider themselves restaurants and sell food, however, will be able to reopen. This distinction has led to frustration from people like Sean Conroy, co-owner of International Tap House, who said he is frustrated that his bar can't open just because they don't sell food.
“We’re being punished because we don’t serve chicken wings,” he said.
ITAP does not have a food handlers license and has no kitchen. Conroy said if they did, they would be putting their recovery plan to use.
“We have set up what we think is a really good plan to open back up,” he said.
Conroy said they have lost 95% of their business despite remaining open for to-go beer sales. He believes the city should handle this situation different for each business.
“In a perfect world, it should be a case-by-case basis," he said. "Bars and restaurants should have a plan, present that plan the Health Department or the mayor to decide if that plan is good enough to reopen.”
But for now, he said, he is just going to have to wait.
“We will have to continue to be patient and hopefully within the next couple weeks we can put our plan in action,” Conroy said.