It’s been another tumultuous week for Arizona’s bars. But some progress has been made.
Despite a petition to reopen businesses with series 6 and series 7 liquor licenses and double "Not Our Last Call" rallies — on August 20 and August 24 — the Arizona State Supreme Court has declined to hear a case for reopening all bars. Attorney Ilan Wurman, who represents more than 125 bar owners, recently refiled the case to overturn Executive Order 2020-43 in the Superior Court of Arizona. (The new version of the complaint includes claims for damages.)
Now the court hearing on the preliminary injunction is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, September 4.
But there is some good news.
The Arizona Department of Health Services announced yesterday that Apache, Cochise, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, and Yavapai counties have reached the “moderate transmission level” in terms of COVID cases. Bars may now "operate at 50% occupancy, only if converted to restaurant service," according to the "Requirements for Restaurants and Bars Providing Dine-In Services."
That means bars with a kitchen or the ability to serve food may now open at half capacity. Other requirements include enhanced cleaning, proper ventilation, and physical distancing.
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Businesses paused by Executive Order 2020-43 that wish to reopen must first complete an online attestation form provided by the ADHS. Some Arizona bars will reopen this week with dine-in service. Those include Stinger's Sports Bar, Bull Shooters, Thunderbird Lounge, The Hideaway Grill, Aguila's Hidaway, and more.
As we reported earlier in August, some bars will not be allowed to reopen until just 3 percent of COVID-19 tests in the county are positive. That's still the case for businesses that don't serve food.
The ADHS has also created a COVID-19 Compliance Hotline and an online complaint submission form so the public may report a business that may be violating the COVID-19 prevention requirements. Yes, any member of the public may anonymously ring the ADHS to complain about a business they find to be operating outside of the rules.
Hang in there, foodless bars.