Bar owners buckle down on health, safety as COVID cases rise
BATON ROUGE- In some states, like Florida and Texas, alcohol cannot be served and bars are to remain closed, however, that is not the case in Louisiana. Bar owners are forced to make tough decisions as they try to reopen their businesses safely in "the boot."
Churchill's cigar bar in Baton Rouge is just one of many businesses to take a hit during the stay-at-home order that was put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The owner, Laurel Dennis, says that having to close up shop was "drastic." Her bar was able to reopen in Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan, but with limited occupancy.
"When we first opened, nobody was coming. They were still really scared, and then they trickled in and trickled in a little bit, and one day they showed up," Dennis said.
Bars and nightclubs in Florida and Texas have been ordered to shut down again after a spike in coronavirus cases.
When it comes to the virus, Dennis is taking no chances.
"We've had a couple of employees become ill, but of course, they immediately went and tested, stayed out, and they just had a cold," Dennis said.
The Baton Rouge bar owner is not too concerned about what is happening in bars that are located out of state, but she is worried about what's going on at the bars that are not too far from her own.
The Department of Health confirmed at least 100 COVID-19 cases were reported among people who worked in or visited bars in Tigerland. Everyone who visited the pop was encouraged to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus just last week.
The outbreak led to bar owners closing their businesses again and offering customers free on-site COVID testing.
"To hear about what happened at Tigerland, we wanted to make sure that didn't happen here," Dennis said.
Churchill's doubled down on sanitization efforts following the Tigerland news. Dennis says healthy customers make for a healthy business.
Medical experts are most concerned with younger bar hoppers who may not show symptoms, but bring the virus home and spread it to others.