Safety top concern for El Barrio when it comes to reopening

Restaurants expected to face new guidelines

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - El Barrio off 2nd Avenue North wants to reopen more than anything, but reopening comes with a lot of challenges.

Neville Baay, co-owner of El Barrio, doesn’t know what the guidelines will be for restaurants when it comes time to reopen, but his biggest concern is the safety and health of his staff.

“It’s very difficult to keep gloves cleaned, to keep masks on, to keep surfaces clean, to sterilize door handles and menus," said Baay. Not to mention keeping customers six feet a part in a dining space that seats 100. Baay said he doesn’t feel comfortable reopening until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19 or cases drop tremendously.

“To me that’s a perfect world. Then I can say hey, we can reopen without any concerns and I don’t have to worry about staff or guests and we can go back to normal,” Baay said.

But for now, normal is curbside and to go orders. Baay said he’s honest with his staff and curbside orders may be their future for a while. If restaurants can reopen in the next three to four weeks, he would choose not to out of safety.

“Every decision is very hard because you know this is hurting us economically, but nothing compares to someone getting sick because we wanted to open to make money, so we will always err on the side of caution," he said.

El Barrio has been in business since 2011 and will continue to rely on curbside orders for the near future.

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