LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - This week, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the state is now in a modified version of Phase 3 of coronavirus restrictions, meaning bars in the Lake Area can finally reopen.
Some of those bar owners describe the last year of quarantine as miserable for business.
“We’ve owned this bar for 15 years,” says Amy Simon of Martinis. “You go from being a successful business owner to dead stop - absolutely nothing - no income. The bills here don’t stop. We have to renew liquor licenses, pay for taxes and utilities.”
Here in Lake Charles, capacity in bars is limited to 25 percent. However, for bar owners at Koozie’s and Martinis, they’ll take all the business they can get.
“We’re really excited to get to reopen today, because the 16th of this month will be a year,” says Simon.
“They were chomping at the bits to get back in,” says Kim Primeaux of Koozie’s.
For many bar owners, they say saving accounts and loans kept them afloat over the last 12 months when their businesses were shut down. Patrons realize those struggles and want to do their part to help.
“Small business people are really suffering a lot with all these closures and everything due to the coronavirus,” says patron, Brendan Reed. “With the new vaccines and everything coming out, we feel like it’s a good time to get out. That way, not everybody is tucked in anymore.”
“We are all going through this thing, but we are all going through it together,” says patron, Albert Duplantis. “Now that it’s getting to where we can be together again here, it’s great.”
After the Governor’s announcement to reopen, bar owners are hopeful COVID-19 infection rates will decline or plateau so they won’t have to close shop again.
“I’m hoping not, but all you can do is hope and pray that we don’t go backwards,” says Primeaux.
“Our Governor is kind of scary on that stuff, so I hope it does go back to normal like this,” says patron, Austin Campbell.
Just because bars are back open, that doesn’t mean we are out of the woods just yet. Masks are still required, and alcohol sales must end at 11 p.m. These rules will remain in effect until March 31, according to the new mandate.