Tuscaloosa bars will reopen Tuesday, bar owners optimistic

Bars reopen in Tuscaloosa Tuesday

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa made national headlines for crowds on the strip after students returned to classes, and the University Alabama still leads the state in COVID-19 cases.

With photos emerging of a crowded strip and numbers climbing past 2,000 cases at the University of Alabama alone since August 19, Mayor Walt Maddox made a controversial decision - shutting down bars.

In last week’s council meeting, R&R Cigars owner Reagan Starner made an impassioned plea.

“Let us do something, let us try to work,” he said, explaining restrictions would be a better option that complete closure.

Maddox acquiesced, limiting capacity to 50 percent and mandating that patrons are only to be served if they are seated, with a limit of 100 people.

Starner is hopeful.

“I am really glad he looked at the data and saw the data supports us opening back up,” said Starner.

Starner says he believes Tuscaloosa bars are committed to doing their part.

“Nobody wants that label, nobody wants to be known as a COVID spreader, right?” he said.

He hopes that their efforts, and pleas with patrons to abide by them, will prevent any future closures.

“We wanted to work, we wanted to get out there and do what we love to do and we are really grateful for the opportunity to do that again,” said Starner.

R&R Cigars, on 6th Street, will have a reopening shindig on Tuesday when bars are permitted to reopen at 6 p.m. and plans to give 25 families in-need a meal.

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