Effort underway to find common ground on bar closures in Tuscaloosa

Updated: Aug. 26, 2020 at 10:11 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A handful of frustrated bar owners are asking the city to find some common ground with the Mayor’s recent executive order, that shut down nearly 30 bars in Tuscaloosa for at least two weeks to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve done all the things that we need can do to slow the spread. Our target audience isn’t college students,” one bar owner said.

“To let me and other establishments like myself be able to continue service in a manner that is compliant with the way the restaurants are, by doing table service,” Hunter Wiggins, owner of Session bar in downtown said.

One business owner even suggested raising the age limit to enter the bar, but the city says doing that runs into legal problems. Mayor Walt Maddox says the city is working through options.

“We are looking at some other ways to maybe go about it, to gear it to help your situation versus where we’ve having the contact tracing go back to the issue,” Maddox said.

Some bar owners understand the need to slow the spread but at least one feels left out of the conversation.

“With us, our business being directly affected the most. We’re the one easily vilified..that we are straight up being cut out of all conversation. We want to help. Give us the opportunity to talk with our city leaders,” Jake French, a business owner said.

Mayor Maddox says he would like to give money to the bars that are closed. It could be similar to a small business relief fund. He’s hoping to reach an agreement with city council Labor Day.

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