SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The latest executive order by Gov. John Bel Edwards aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus is causing a stir among northwest Louisiana bar owners.
In addition to mandating masks throughout the state, the governor also ordered bars to shut down.
That means happy hour is over at Sand Bar in Shreveport. Staff members there prepped the space for the extended closure.
“I’m not saying it doesn’t spread in bars, that’s not my statement,” said Tim Huck, owner. “But, you can’t say it’s just spreading in bars. I don’t see the numbers turning just by closing the bars.”
Huck says he’s put in place extra sanitizing measures and spaced tables six feet apart, among other things to help improve the health and safety of customers. He says he’s frustrated those precautions aren’t enough to keep serving.
“Basically, my question is, ‘What is enough?’ And, no one’s given that answer,” Huck said.
He said he feels like the bar business is being targeted by the latest mandate.
“They can’t show that it spreads faster in a bar, that it spreads more rapidly in a bar, that more people are catching it from a bar, but we were the easy target to pick,” he said.
Closing down for the coronavirus has added up to a six-figure loss in revenue, he said. That trickles down to his employees.
“Livelihoods of 13 people,” Huck said. “For 13 people to be able to pay their bills, support their families.”
Rack2Rack in Bossier City was also forced to turn out the lights.
“This is our income, this is our livelihood,” said co-owner Joyce Jones. “And, it’s been taken away.’
Jones said the business has lost about $20,000 of income from coronavirus closures, so far. That figure does not include other losses.
“People don’t realize that beer expires,” she said. “The beer companies are not picking it back up due to the pandemic, so we had several cases of beer that we just had to pour out.”
Jones and her husband have owned the business five years. She calls her customers “family.”
“I’ve been in the bar business on and off 39 years now,” she said, “and I can’t imagine doing anything else. But, much more of a shutdown, I may have to do something else.”
Gov. Edwards is expected to make a decision on whether bars can re-open Friday, July 24. At that point, local bars will have been closed about eight weeks due to COVID.