May 28, 2020 at 10:36 PM EDT – Updated May 28 at 11:22 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – On Thursday, state lawmakers voted to allow bars to reopen in outdoor spaces.
If it becomes law, House Bill 536 would override part of Gov. Roy Cooper’s most recent executive order that has closed bars since March.
Manager Robin Potts of the Dubliner Bar in Wilmington is ready to serve customers again, and he says they already have outside space ready to do it safely.
“We could open and keep our employees having a job,” said Potts. “We want to be open to the community that we’ve been with here for the past 20 years.”
Potts says he’s come up with protocols to keep everyone safe in hopes that the governor would give the go-ahead before now.
“We have taken every precaution,” said Potts. “We even will offer our customers masks if they want one. How they’re going to drink with the mask on I have no idea, but we aren’t able to implement any of this until he (Gov. Cooper) takes this seriously.”
Lector Bennett owns Cape Fear Beer and Wine in downtown Wilmington and questions why bars haven’t been able to open, while other similar businesses can.
“We’d like to be open,” said Bennett. “It’s frustrating seeing the restaurants be busy. The bottle shops can open. You can get into a public swimming pool. But you can’t go to a bar and get a drink.”
Bennett’s business partner Maaike Brandis isn’t optimistic about House Bill 536 allowing them to open anytime soon.
“We’ve gotten our hopes up last week when the governor announced Phase 2,” said Brandis. “We were all set, we had practices in mind for distancing, for cleanliness. I don’t want to get my hopes up again because it was a huge crushing blow.”
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