Pub owner frustrated over coronavirus-related shutdowns

“We want to see proof of how many cases are actually coming from a bar”

Louisiana pub owner frustrated by shutdowns spurred by COVID-19

BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) — It was the news Alex Moss dreaded hearing: Louisiana would remain in Phase II and bars statewide would remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For Moss, these closures are personal.

“We’re being discriminated against, for what reason? Why us? Why a bar?”

The least risky activity is opening your mail; the riskiest activity is going to a bar, according to the Texas Medical Association.
The least risky activity is opening your mail; the riskiest activity is going to a bar, according to the Texas Medical Association. (Source: Texas Medical Association)

With her brother, Moss co-owns Bilbo Baggins Pub in Bossier City. Her grandmother opened the pub on Old Minden Road just off Interstate 20 in 1981.

“The moment you walk in the door, it’s your other home,” Moss said. “You’re surrounded by people who’ve supported you since Day One.”

According to Louisiana’s current order, bars statewide are closed for on-premise consumption, which means business remains at a halt until at least Aug. 7 — more than two weeks away.

“It’s not fair that you can go sit at a restaurant at their bar, but you can’t come into my establishment and have a beer,” Moss argued. “We want to see proof of how many cases are actually coming from a bar.”

Despite the Louisiana Department of Health reporting shockingly high community spread of COVID-19 (upwards of 90%), Moss is adamant that bars should still be permitted to operate.

“When you’re abiding by every law or guideline they are giving you, it hurts when it’s like ‘OK, you’re going to be shut down again.' It sucks, it hurts, but we’ll make it through.”

In mid-June, LDH tied at least 100 cases of coronavirus to multiple bars throughout Tigerland in Baton Rouge. At the time, bars closed for thorough cleanings, and those who visited the area were asked to self-quarantine and watch for symptoms.

“It just doesn’t make sense to us, it’s not fair,” Moss said. “We want to see proof of how many cases are actually coming from a bar.”

She believes bars should be deemed an essential business.

“We are places people go to feel comfortable, relieve stress of the day, get things off their mind,” Moss wrote. “We are not only bartenders. We are family, responsible vendors and friends.”

Thanks largely to the support of her loyal patrons, she’s confident that her family’s pub will survive the seemingly endless restrictions brought on by the coronavirus.

“Our customers and the community are incredible. It’s something they look forward to, coming to Bilbo’s.”

On Wednesday, LDH reported 2,802 new cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, with 92% of those cases being the result of community spread.

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