Tuscaloosa bar owner worries new restrictions will hurt his business

Tuscaloosa business owners react to restrictions

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Session in downtown Tuscaloosa had a light crowd when the city’s new bar and restaurant requirements went into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday night.

Its owner worries about the days ahead. “We’ve kept our crowds limited, we’ve slowed our service down. We’ve accepted that we’re going to make less money,” Hunter Wiggins explained.

New rules for bars, brewpubs and similar Tuscaloosa businesses with liquor licenses mandate an occupancy limit 50% of normal occupancy after 9 p.m. Clubs and entertainment venues are now restricted to occupancy limits of 25% at all times.

Wednesday, Mayor Walt Maddox said more restrictions were needed to prevent potential spreads of COVID-19 before thousands of students return for fall classes at the University of Alabama.

“As I drive down University Boulevard Friday night, it appeared to me that coronavirus may have been the farthest thing from people’s minds. And the gathering of people in those places where there’s a higher chance of spread of God forbid super spread, concerned me greatly,” Maddox said during a news conference.

Wiggins felt this puts an unfair burden on his business and others.

“To put the onus on us and make it seem like we’re the direct problem and the only reason the state of Alabama is having spikes is because of us being open and serving I think is a little unfair,” said Maddox.

Maddox said earlier this week that crafting this emergency order to address occupancy rules, instead of wearing masks, which is still required, and social distancing, would be easier to police.

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