For the first time since March 16, Kentucky bars can reopen Monday amid surges in coronavirus cases tied to similar businesses in other states.
Some other states which opened bars earlier, including California, Texas and Florida, are shutting them down, either in select counties or statewide, according to orders from all three states.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars across the state at noon Friday. He did so because the positive test rate in Texas had surpassed 10 percent, according to the order.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said in a statement. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible.”
Texas had 148,723 total COVID-19 cases as of Sunday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close Sunday in seven California counties, including Los Angeles County. The other counties included Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial. Each of the counties ordered to close their bars had been on the “county monitoring list” for more than two weeks.
Eight other counties were asked by state officials to issue local health orders closing bars. Those included Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus counties.
California had 211,243 total COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, according to state data. California bars were allowed to reopen for sitdown drinking June 12, according to Eater San Francisco, after being closed about three months.
Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, announced Friday that on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars was suspended immediately.
Florida had 141,075 total COVID-19 cases as of Sunday. State data has shown people ages 18-to-44 have driven the recent increase in cases.
“You can’t control … they’re younger people. They’re going to do what they’re going to do,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, according to the Miami Herald.
Some Lexington bars not eager to reopen
Some Kentucky bars aren’t reopening even though they can. Break Room at Pepper, a pub in Lexington, announced Saturday it would not reopen yet.
“We are super anxious to see your face and get back to having a good time, but we feel to reopen at this time is not the most responsible decision,” the bar’s representatives said on Facebook. “The health and safety of our staff and you all is our #1 concern.”
Kevin Hall, spokesman for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, said that while Kentucky is doing well on limiting the spread of COVID-19 compared to a lot of other states, there is still cause for concern.
“Lexington is seeing a growth, and we don’t want to end up like Texas or these other states, Arizona, for instance,” Hall said. Both states have seen recent COVID-19 surges. Younger people not heeding virus warnings are a concern.
“They’ve seen the deaths mostly are affecting older people, or people with underlying conditions, and it’s very sad,” he said.
Some Kentucky bars reopened with restaurants May 22 by obtaining permits to serve food, typically prepackaged items.
In addition to allowing bars to reopen as of Monday, Kentucky also allowed group gatherings of 50 and permitted public swimming facilities to open along with venues like music halls and convention centers. Youth sports teams can also hold competitions with up to 50 spectators. In most cases, occupancy is limited to 50 percent or less.
What Kentucky bars have to do to stay safe
Kentucky’s bars have guidelines the state expects them to follow upon reopening Monday. Gov. Andy Beshear’s “Healthy at Work” initiative mandates bars must limit capacity to 50 percent “or the greatest number that permits individuals not from the same household to maintain six (6) feet of space between each other with that level of occupancy.”
Employees are required to wear masks while interacting with others or working in common areas of the business, according to the order. Employees using vehicles must limit the number of people in the vehicle as much as possible.
There are also specific cleaning requirements. Restaurants and bars have to ensure workstations and seating areas are properly cleaned and ventilated; require employees to “frequently” wash their hands or use company-provided hand sanitizer; ensure cleaning of frequently touched surfaces; and sanitize restrooms frequently.
Restaurants and bars also have to require employees wipe down their workstations and cash registers with disinfectant at the end of their shifts or when leaving their stations for a while. Businesses have to ensure there are disinfectant wipes or other cleaning supplies available near shared equipment. Gloves also need to be worn as much as possible while cleaning.
Signs have to be posted to alert customers and employees not to enter if they have a fever or symptoms of COVID-19. Signs also should notify staff and customers of social distancing, occupancy limits, face-covering policies and good hygiene practices, according to the governor’s order.
Self-service drink stations have to be discontinued as much as possible, according to the order. If the establishment maintains self-service drink stations, they have to be cleaned, new cups have to be provided for each refill and unwrapped and non-disposable items have to be removed along with sweeteners and creamers.
There are also optional recommendations for bars and restaurants to follow. Those include providing curbside, takeout and delivery options, reservation or call-ahead seating and limiting party size to 10 people or fewer, among other steps.
Bars and restaurants should encourage customers to use hand sanitizer and prevent employees from dry sweeping or using high-pressure streams of air, water or cleaning chemicals over fears infectious particles could be aerosolized.
Installing floor decals for social distancing and limiting the number of people in restrooms are also recommended.