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Coast bars frustrated over new safety changes

A recent spike in new COVID-19 cases led to stricter restrictions on bars and restaurants...
A recent spike in new COVID-19 cases led to stricter restrictions on bars and restaurants throughout the state.(WLOX)
Updated: Jul. 25, 2020 at 11:05 AM CDT
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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - A recent spike in new COVID-19 cases led to stricter restrictions on bars and restaurants throughout the state.

Governor Tate Reeves made amendments to Mississippi’s Safe Return order, which has establishments scrambling to change their operations.

Now, bars can only serve alcohol to guests who are seated, and no alcohol can be served between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Our bars must look more like restaurants and less like mobs of COVID-19 spread,” said Reeves.

State leaders hope the stricter mandates will cut down on crowds heading to bars, especially the younger demographic.

“We know that we’ve seen a tremendous amount of spread in our young people,” Reeves said. “By far, the group driving these higher number is people in their 20′s.”

While the goal of the restrictions is to keep people safe during the pandemic, some local bars feel it’s impacting their business for the worse.

Gilligan’s owner Lori Wilson says the new restrictions hurt her bar when business is usually at its peak.

“So this virus doesn’t come out until after 10 o’clock at night or after 11 o′clock at night?” she said. “If you can drink up until 11, why is there any difference drinking after 11? It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Matt Traub, a bartender at Boogie’s, says the restrictions go into effect during one of the busiest times of the year.

“This is normally a peak season for us and we are just not seeing the numbers that we should be because of these new restrictions,” he said.

Both bar owners and staff now hope they can survive through the pandemic.

“I want everything to return back to normal. I’m tired of living in an abnormal world. I want it to be normal,” said Wilson.

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