Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill passed by the General Assembly that would have allowed bars in North Carolina to reopen. However, some businesses that are self-described as bars are opening up.
Gov. Cooper’s May 20 executive order, which moved the state into Phase 2 of reopening, stated that restaurants could open as long as they did not exceed 50 percent of the capacity for the building and set up tables to maintain a 6-foot social distance. Under the order, bars are not allowed to open.
In the order, bars are defined as “establishments that are not eating establishments or restaurants, that have a permit to sell alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption" and "are principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption.”
A business that calls itself a bar, but makes 30 percent of its revenue from food and has a kitchen and inside dining area is classified as a restaurant according to state laws.
Pantana Bob’s, the popular sports bar and restaurant located on Rosemary Street, is one such local establishment that has been able to open up under Phase 2, despite calling itself a bar.
Marlena Moore, a bartender at Pantana Bob’s, said that the bar has implemented social distancing measures required by the executive order, such as spreading tables apart and not allowing anyone to sit at the bar.
“We also have completely made the bar area so that you can’t sit at the bar and it is only an ordering area,” said Moore. “We’ve completely cleared out the front space so that no one can sit and congregate. You go order your food or your drink and then go sit down at your table, you’re not allowed to stand and congregate."
Moore also said that Pantana Bob’s has changed its hours to 3 p.m. to midnight in order to encourage customers to pay attention to social distancing guidelines.
“We’ve had to cut our hours down because sometimes people have been abusing the fact that we’re open and getting a little rowdy, so we’re trying to cut down our hours to avoid those rowdy hours,” Moore said.