BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says his office will remain proactive after four bars across the state had their permits suspended during the last weekend in July.
This all happened due to the bars reportedly not complying with Governor John Bel Edwards’ emergency order to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, a local bar owner says this is just another case of a few bad apples hurting his chance at reopening.
Browning says the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal is working basically on a “three strike you’re out” system for these businesses not complying. He says right now, around 14 businesses across the state are already on their second strike.
“They’re [four businesses] scheduled for hearings on August 5 and 6, and the result of those hearings could be a 30-day suspension of their alcohol license,” said Browning.
The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) suspended four bar permits for public safety violations during the last weekend of July. Those bars are:
- Sand Dollar Tiki Bar, Grand Isle
- Frosty Factory, Lake Charles
- Pelican Pub, Gonzales
- Wo-de’s Chill Spot, Harvey
“I mean, we’re expecting people to operate within those rules, so it’s all balanced on the science and the directive we’re getting from Washington, D.C. to specific risks in Louisiana,” said Browning.
Browning says his office will be cracking down more on both bars and businesses. However, the vast majority of businesses across Louisiana are complying, he says.
“And it’s just not fair for the good businesses out there who are doing their best to help the state, help our citizens, and help our country recover when you have these bad actors out there,” said Browning.
That’s the same sentiment shared by the owner of Kenny’s Cue Club & Tavern, Kenny Stubbs.
“Even the bars that were closed in Grand Isle this past weekend, you see they were not practicing social distancing, nobody was wearing masks, so I feel like I’m being penalized for all the bad apples,” said Stubbs.
Stubbs has owned the bar since 2017, and while the place does sell food, like some bars that have remained open, he says it’s not enough food to stay open.
He and other local bar owners are struggling.
“I have to pay my landlord, my lease, my electricity, because I can’t turn off all the coolers. So I have to leave electricity on. I have insurance in case somebody were to walk through the parking lot and fall down, I have to have the insurance for it. My liquor license is paid in the beginning of the year for the entire year, so even if you’re not using it, you still get charged for it,” said Stubbs.
His bartenders are also out of work and struggling.
Stubbs tells WAFB he doesn’t know how much longer his business can remain closed.
“There’s no income. I can’t continue on with no income,” said Stubbs.
“So these are very, very tough restrictions and I’m aware of that, nothing easy or pleasant about that, but they are absolutely necessary,” said Governor John Bel Edwards speaking on current restrictions for bars, restaurants, and businesses across the state.
When asked if he thought it was possible to reopen bars before there’s a vaccine available, the governor said he doesn’t know the answer to that right now, but he’d like to think so.
To learn more about how you can reopen your business safely within LAOSFM guidelines, click here.
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