It’s been two and a half weeks since Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered bars and restaurants to close early amid surging COVID-19 cases across the state.
The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission said in the past six days, compliance officers have checked 156 bars. Only seven were not in compliance with the Stitt’s orders requiring them to close at 11 p.m.
“We try not to be in there at 11:02 or 11:03. We understand that people are going to be finishing up their drinks,” ABLE Assistant Director Brent Fairchild said. “So, 15 minutes after (11:00), people need to be finishing up their beverages getting on out. By 11:45, midnight, they’re probably being there a little bit longer than they should.”
“The first weekend that this went into effect, we lost about 35% to 45% of our revenue over the previous weekend,” Randy Abott said.
He has owned the Bamboo Room in Midwest City since last December. He said his industry is being unfairly targeted in an effort to appear to be doing something to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“They said that we were considered nonessentials. I had a problem with that,” he said. “There’s nothing nonessential about any American and there’s nothing nonessential about a mother that works at a business that has to feed her children.”
The governor made the announcement at the end of November saying the move was necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
"Data shows that social distancing is harder to maintain as it gets later at night especially in bars," the governor told reporters on Nov. 16.
At the Bamboo Room, Abbott is worried less about the science and more about the dollars and cents.
“When we have people that are still here at 11 o’clock that we have to have them leave, that’s a lot of money that’s going out the door for us,” he said.
The emergency order lasts through at least next Wednesday.