RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — For the first Friday night in nearly seven months, many bars opened.
That’s because North Carolina officially entered Phase 3 of the COVID-19 opening plan at 5 p.m. Bars were allowed to reopen but with restrictions.
It started slowly with people wearing masks and socially distancing at popular Raleigh bars, like Lucky B’s.
“We’re excited!” Mike Lombardo, the owner said.
Lombardo said it’s been a struggle. With no income coming in since March, he’s been living on credit cards.
“We’ve been open for 15 years now and I’ve never been closed a day, and then to be shut down for six plus months is tough,” he said.
That’s what made Friday so important. Lombardo said he hired an off-duty Raleigh police officer to monitor the door, only 50 people would be allowed on the patio, 30% of his outdoor capacity and they’d enforce social distancing.
“We’re staying pretty strict with the guidelines. That’s all we’ve asked for from day one , so let us be part of what’s going on,” Lombardo said.
But as the hours passed, bigger groups came together. The line to get in grew, the people in line were standing close together.
“There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of people with masks and there’s also a lot of people without masks,” Emily Thomas said.
The Glenwood South area was also busy — really busy, resembling a pre-pandemic Friday night.
“I can see why there would be concern but again, like I said, personal choice, people can choose to go out or to go out,” Eric Valencia said.
Still other bars still haven’t reopened. The Blind Barbour doesn’t have any outdoor seating. Its owner, Joey Barbour, said he is hoping to put seating in the front or back.
“We’re looking into everything we can to try to make it workable… It’s very hard for businesses to be sustainable with those types of numbers,” Barbour said.
Raleigh police said they stepped up patrols in downtown Raleigh Friday night.
They said they knew it would be busy and they wanted to have officers on hand. No citations were handed out.
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