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Boone County bars plan reopening under new COVID-19 orders


More Boone County businesses will be able to reopen next week under a new COVID-19 health order that will take effect Tuesday.

Columbia/Boone Public Health Department Director Stephanie Browning and others with the health department gave the details of the new order during a news conference at City Hall on Friday.

You can watch the full news conference in the player below.

Under Browning's order businesses will be allowed to operate at half capacity after May 31, which is when a statewide reopening order keeping those limits at 10 percent for smaller buildings and 25 percent for larger buildings expires.

The health officials said movie theaters and night clubs will be allowed to reopen for the first time since the county's first order went into effect in late March. The health department said movie theaters and bars will be subject to occupancy limits as well.

Health department spokeswoman Ashton Day said bars and nightclubs looking to reopen will need to have a health inspection completed before they are allowed to reopen.

The new guidance includes increased occupancy limits for businesses. It's part of the three-month reopening plan Browning introduced to the city council Monday.

James Kanne owns 9th Street Public House, which has been closed since the county's original order went into effect in March. He and his staff are preparing to open again under this next phase of the reopening order and had an inspection done Friday.

"I'm nervous is probably the best way to describe it because it is going to be different, and we're trying to be safe, of course, number one and, also, we have to make money as a business," Kanne said. "We're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place in terms of what are we supposed to do here?"

Kanne said he recognizes that many people are wanting to get out and socialize more.

He said the 50% capacity will not have as much impact on 9th Street Public House as it may on other businesses because capacity limits affect smaller venues differently.

"We will actually make money on 50% capacity as opposed to, I would believe and I don't know, but some businesses the business model doesn't work at 25% capacity," he said.

Kanne said the guidelines for enforcing social distancing are not as clear as he would like, and enforcing it may be difficult.

"The burden is put on us to try and be enforcers and, of course, we're happy to be as cooperative as possible. There's only so much we can do," he said.

Kanne said having the bar inspected helped him feel more comfortable about the opening.

Jesse Garcia, owner of The Social Room and The Penguin Piano Bar and Nightclub said his staff is currently working to figure out what opening parts of The Social Room will look like.

They had closed the dance floor but have continued to sell food and beverages under the current order.

Garcia said his businesses have already seen a huge hit as a result of the pandemic because they have been closed for most when they usually make their money to cover rent over the summer.

Garcia said people want things to start returning to normal, but he believes everyone's main concern, whether they are patrons or employees, is safety.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

Brittany Wiley

Brittany Wiley joined ABC 17 News in December 2018 as a full-time reporter. She anchors weekend morning broadcasts and reports in the early evening during the week.

Matt Ragsdale

Matt Ragsdale is a broadcast and digital producer at ABC 17 News.


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