CITY COUNCIL REINSTATES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN TUSCALOOSA

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With a 4-3 vote, the Tuscaloosa City Council today approved reinstating a State of Emergency in town.

With the State of Emergency comes likely new rules that would reduce bar occupancy after 9 p.m., reduce experience or entertainment venue occupancy to 25% at all times and end bar service at restaurants at 9 p.m. Those potential restrictions have not yet been passed but are expected to be enacted by Thursday.

Local restaurants said the new rules will be tough to overcome, but it’s preferable to having another complete shutdown.

“Obviously, we’ve seen a lot of businesses close,” said Half Shell Oyster House General Manager Will Turner. “They did not make it through the first lock down. If we have another one, I can imagine there will be double the amount closing again. It would just be terrible for us. it is great to have people in the building and being able to be a part of the community.”

Alcove General Manager Joe Bonner said the 11 p.m. curfew set by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is already tough to handle for drink-only bars.

“Well, it has been tough on us,” Bonner said. “It has really hurt us because we have lost a lot of our older clientele in the afternoons, so we have been depending on the nighttime.”

Turner and Bonner said they can handle restrictions on their businesses, but they’re hoping patrons and other businesses will adhere to all mandatory guidelines so there won’t be another lockdown.

“I don’t want everyone to get shut down again,” Turner said. “There are a lot of local bars and restaurants and small business owners that I don’t want to see fail. We are moving in the right direction. With kids coming back, we’ve definitely seen an increase in business. We want to continue that.”

Bonner said it’s important that he keeps the lights on not just for himself, but for his employees.

“All of our employees, this is their livelihood,” Bonner said. “It is tough right now, especially with less people coming out, we are not making near the amount of money that we used to and that has hurt us. We will do whatever it takes to get through this. I think everyone needs to do this as well so we can get back to some sort of normal. We all want to get back there and it is going to take all of us.”

Council members who voted no on the state of emergency were District 3’s Cynthia Almond, District 4’s Lee Busby and District 5’s Kip Tyner.

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