ACADIA PARISH, JEFF DAVIS PARISH, ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — Three parishes in Acadiana have reopened bars after qualifying Wednesday under phase three guidelines. Less than 5% of COVID-19 test results returned positive in Jeff Davis, Acadia, and St. Landry parish in both the last two weeks.
While these three parishes have opted in for reopening bars, other parishes don’t have the option yet because their numbers have not been long enough for long enough.
City Bar in Crowley received word that they could once again serve drinks at 5 P.M. in Acadia Parish, and it wasn’t long before they started serving drinks. Because of Governor John Bel Edwards’ orders, hours are greatly limited and so is the amount of people who can be inside.
“It is a relief. It is going to help, but it is still very, very restrictive on bars,” said Chad Monceaux, owner of City Bar in Crowley.
When whispers of phase 3 started to develop last week, Chad Monceaux and his team started getting City Bar ready for customers, but while most businesses are operating at 75% occupancy, bars will be limited to 25% indoors and up to 50 people outside if they can socially distance.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away, but unfortunately, we’re going to have to at some point,” Monceaux said “We have to follow the rules. We have to follow the orders.”
Bars statewide will also have strict operating hours. They must close by 11 P.M., but the last call will be at 10 P.M.
Monceaux stated that makes things difficult, “10’o’clock is when most of the drinking crowd comes out, and that’s when we have to stop serving.”
Customers were happy to return no matter the time, being without bars for most of 2020.
“It’s a good escape to get away from home, get away from the craziness of Corona,” said Chasidy Dugar before enjoying the slot machines.
Cornell Loving said he was glad to return. “I just miss being around family. That’s who we are here at City Bar, and that’s who I miss being around,” he added.
Though it’s taken a toll on customers, the greatest toll has been on the bar owners themselves. Monceaux stated he owed $7,000 to the bank before COVID-19, but now he owes $47,000 because of rent, cable, and utilities which haven’t stopped.
Monceaux is happy he can now serve and recoup some of that money but he’s eager to see fewer restrictions soon.
“We for some reason have been targeted as the place that COVID lives,” Monceaux argued. “We aren’t trying to be rebels and break the law. We’re just trying to make our living as we’ve been doing for so long.”
While this City Bar was ready to open immediately, some neighboring bars were still closed due to the short notice. When asked why owners answered they were having trouble getting stock or bringing back bartenders who have found other jobs.
Other restrictions on bars during phase three include serving tableside only and live music is prohibited.