100 days down, three weeks to go: Bars remain closed as NC remains in phase 2

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After Governor Cooper announced North Carolina would remain in phase two, bar owners were crushed yet again (photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Over 100 days down and possibly three more weeks to go.

After Governor Cooper announced North Carolina would remain in phase two, bar owners were crushed yet again.

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“I’m just confused on why restaurant bars can open and private bars can’t,” Jimmy Gilleece said.

Gilleece, owner of Jimmy’s at Wrightsville Beach, says he would like to see the science and data Governor Cooper keeps citing, but is yet to receive it.

“I don’t see the logic behind it at all. Like I said before, there’s so few bars open people that want to go to bars are going to be stuffed in these restaurant bars.”



Gilleece says he’s happy for the restaurants getting business, but private bars would like the opportunity to comply with CDC guidelines as well.

“We can take precautions just like everybody else,” he said. “Being a private club we can let anybody in or not let them in. We have that choice. If someone seems sick or they aren’t wearing a face mask, we can tell them they have to go somewhere else.”

He says he has now been closed for longer than any of the hurricanes have caused combined.

Gilleece says this is crushing his business, but luckily the community has shown them lots of support.

“We’ve had to put in multiple t-shirt and hat orders. Our online store is blowing up,” he said. “I realize about 90% of that is the local community supporting us. You know, how many t-shirts can you buy? But they keep buying them and buying them, so we really appreciate that.”

Unfortunately, some bars have had no source of income throughout the shutdown.

“We’re on the verge of going out of business,” Dustin Cook said.

Cook, owner of KGB and Pravda in Downtown Wilmington, says there’s rent to pay and other expenses that come along with keeping a business open but no money coming in.

“We’re all struggling very hard because, unlike restaurants, we haven’t really had the opportunity to do to-gos or really any business at all,” he said. “So we’re sitting here doing zero revenue.”

When he first expected to open at the announcement of moving on to phase two, he had staff ready to go and began preparing his businesses to comply with all guidelines.

“We really want to do this the right way. Pravda is a dance club typically, but we’re ready to open and have Pravda be a bar that’s socially distanced and be safe,” Cook said.

He says he feels the governor is making an unfair judgement.

“I feel like we’re being judged that we aren’t going to do the right thing and we aren’t being given the chance to show that we can,” he said. “I think they’re jumping the gun and making the judgement that bar employees and bar owners and bar patrons aren’t responsible enough to handle it. Instead, I feel they’re creating the thing they’re most afraid of and that is bottlenecks of people going into just a few establishments now and unsafe situations being created.”

The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association filed a lawsuit on June 4 to have private bars treated equally and allow them to reopen as long as they follow guidelines.

The lawsuit was heard on June 19 and is currently waiting a ruling.