Bars in Iberville, St. Mary to reopen after meeting requirement of low coronavirus positivity rate

Bar owners in Iberville Parish react after getting the green light to reopen

(WAFB) - Bars in both Iberville and St. Mary parishes will soon reopen after meeting specific coronavirus positivity rate criteria.

Parish government officials made both announcements Wednesday, Sept. 23. In order to reopen, the COVID-19 positivity rate for the parish had to be lower than 5% for two consecutive weeks.

There are, however, still some guidelines bars must follow. They include:

  • Bars may reopen and offer table-side service only. Standing and bar service will be prohibited.
  • Indoor capacity shall be limited to a 25% occupancy rate or 50 people, whichever is less
  • Outdoor capacity shall be limited to 50 people and only for table-side service
  • Tables shall be spaced in accordance with Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal social distancing guidelines
  • Bars and other Class AG permit holders, including daiquiri shops, must cease all sale and service of alcoholic beverages and close no later than 11 p.m.
  • No person under the age of 21 shall be allowed on to the premises
  • Live music is prohibited

ONE-STOP-SHOP: Stats, links related to COVID-19

Iberville Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Clint Moore says the parish has met the state’s requirement of having a COVID-19 positivity rate of 5% or less for two consecutive weeks.

Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso told The Advocate newspaper he has opted in to Phase 3 and applied for authorization from the state’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) to for bars, daiquiri shops, and breweries to sell alcohol on-site.

RELATED: Gov. Edwards releases full guidance on Phase 3 reopening plan

Iberville Parish is the first parish in the Baton Rouge area to meet the positivity rate requirements for bars to reopen for on-site consumption.

“You have no idea, no idea how stressful this has been,” said Cheri Jones, manager at Beerbellys in Plaquemine.

On Main Street in Plaquemine, the beer and liquor at Beerbellys is finally flowing.

“It’s phenomenal, my word, mentally, financially, physically, everything,” said Jones.

Cheri Jones, manager of Beerbellys in Plaquemine
Cheri Jones, manager of Beerbellys in Plaquemine (Source: WAFB)

The place is finally able to serve its regulars their drink of choice again.

“Nervous, just like opening first day, you know, it’s like are we going to have everything ready? Are people going to show up?” said Jerry Bonner, owner of Beerbellys.

Beerbellys does sell food, but it has been closed for most of 2020. Management was actually planning to open up Wednesday, Sept. 23 as a restaurant, then an hour later, they got the okay for the bar scene.

“We’ve got ten employees, you know, got bills to pay, and it’s just good to be open. It’s good to be open right now,” said Bonner.

Parish officials have been monitoring the COVID-19 numbers for quite some time to see when they would be able to open the bars.

“We understand that they just can’t open the doors and let everybody back in. They still do have restrictions and guidelines set forth by the governor that they have to follow,” said Moore.

“Disinfect every time someone leaves and throw away the menus and the condiments and everything like that, so just do what we do. We’re all wearing masks, employees,” said Bonner.

The folks at Beerbellys are trying to follow the rules so they won’t have to turn off the taps, like what had to happen back in July. They just want to serve their customers, who they say are like family.

Beerbellys in Plaquemine
Beerbellys in Plaquemine (Source: WAFB)

“These are our friends, they’re not just customers. These are the reason we are opening back up, or being able, not because of the COVID stuff, but these are the people that have supported us, and as you can see, they’re still supporting us,” said Jones.

WAFB reached out to East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office to find out if EBR Parish could be next up to get bars back up and running.

A spokesperson says they’re optimistic and we could get an update on that soon.

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.