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Atlantic Beach says bars, nightclubs can reopen with outdoor areas

(WITN)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 3:02 PM EDT
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The Atlantic Beach town council voted unanimously Thursday to allow bars to open outdoor service while only serving 25 customers at a time, per phase two of Governor Cooper's re-opening plan.

"This is not about a business surviving but this is about a community surviving," said Tackle Box Owner Richard Porter.

Restaurants in North Carolina have been allowed to open at 50% capacity for almost a week now, but bars that don't serve food have been kept closed. That's something that lawmakers in Raleigh voted to change.

The General Assembly voted to pass Hose Bill 536 Thursday. The bill would allow for bars to be considered under the same restrictions that restaurants have been under phase two. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) expressed his disagreement.

"On a day when we're seeing some of our highest numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. The senate wants to open bars," said Cooper. "I know it is a tough time for business. and I believe that there will be a time where we can re-open bars. But that time is not now."

But bar owners in Atlantic Beach like owner of Idle Hour Biergarten Arlyn Disher are looking for something to budge. And they said efforts like the ordinance passed by the town council are exactly what they're looking for.

"It's a really a great big beach to be able to go out to and have a beer and enjoy yourself and play in the sand," said Disher.

WITN contacted Governor Cooper's office for comment but has not heard back.

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Atlantic Beach leaders will allow bars and nightclubs to serve beer and wine outdoors.

Under phase two of Governor Roy Cooper's reopening plan, those businesses are not allowed to reopen.

Town council voted unamiously, with two members abstaining, to approve the temporary measure.

Atlantic Beach's plan would require bars and businesses to have the temporary outdoor areas within 100 feet of their existing building, the area would be clearly marked, and customers cannot take open containers outside the temporary areas.

It also says the businesses can only have the outdoor areas open between noon and 9:00 p.m. and they cannot exceed the current limits for outdoor mass gatherings, which is now set at 25 people.

Atlantic Beach says the outdoor serving provisions will remain until all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted by the state.

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