Local bar owners hope for legislation that lets them open

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. — Hours after the North Carolina Senate voted to allow bars to open for outdoor seating, Gov. Roy Cooper is asking legislators to rethink their decision.

The bill would let bars open at 50 percent capacity as long as customers stay six feet apart outside.

“We’ve got to keep the health and safety of North Carolinians as our number one priority,” said Cooper during a news conference Thursday.

The governor has concerns about legislation letting bars open but the people running them worry about their financial taps running dry.

“Just sitting vacant, that’s just, it’s getting tough,” said Tony Crowder, owner of The Alibi Bar and Lounge.

The Alibi is one of Tony Crowder’s three small businesses in the Piedmont. He was prepared to open last weekend and hire back staff.

“We were all actually piled up in front of the TV when they were making the announcement and there were a lot of people that were upset,” Crowder said.

Phase Two excluded bars.

“It’s been miserable. Trying to survive and trying to keep things going,” said James Hutton, who owns Copper Still Taproom.

Crowder and Hutton have considered closing for good but the hope of getting to open even if customer count is at a minimum is just want they need to get by.

Hutton’s bar has a back patio and he’s willing to work with other bar owners to utilize parking lots and alleyways.

“At this point, if I could just put one or two of my people back to work, it’s better than none,” Crowder said.

Their hope comes with a major caution from the governor.

“We’re six days into Phase Two, and on a day when we’re seeing some of our highest numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, the Senate wants to open bars. I hope that the house will look at this carefully and that senators will reconsider their choice about this,” Cooper said.

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