Bars and taverns may close shop for good resulting in more unemployment

Several bars have already been listed for sale during the pandemic, including The Shady Lady.

Guam bars and taverns are among the few final businesses still not allowed to reopen under COVID-19 restrictions.

And bar owners are questioning whether they’ll ever be able to open at all.

John Ananich, Sidelines Bar & Grill owner, said: “The biggest fear with them remaining closed, is that if we continue this trend of not allowing them to do any trade, a lot of these bars may never reopen.”

While bars and taverns still can’t unlock their doors, restaurants, which also serve alcohol and have live music, were allowed to welcome back dine-in patrons on May 29, nearly two weeks ago at 50 percent capacity.

Ananich said he was allowed to open only the dine-in portion of his establishment

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“Even if the bar was open, the guidelines would still be at a 50 percent capacity and that just makes it very difficult to survive,” he said.

Ananich is advocating for the government to let all bars open at 100 percent capacity.

“I’m suggesting that if we don’t open at 100 percent capacity, then I don’t know how much longer these businesses will remain open. Yes, it’s definitely going to be difficult when you add some alcohol and a good atmosphere, for people to maintain social distancing. I definitely understand that … I get it. “I think the better solution is to reopen and let those employers try to work those guidelines. We’ve been trusted to open this business, we’ve been trusted to do what’s right. And now in this pandemic, we’ve pretty much being held down and they don’t trust us to open,” Ananich said.

With unemployment applications already passing 16,000 at the Department of Labor, Ananich said it will only get worse if bars can’t open up.

“And we won’t have a social distancing problem within the establishment, we’re going to have to try to figure out social distancing at the Department of Labor because all of these employees are going to be down there, not standing 6 feet apart, standing shoulder to shoulder, trying to get the assistance to maintain their livelihoods if anything,” Ananich said.

Clarified guidelines from the Department of Public Health say the 50 percent capacity for dine-in facilities includes all staff and Ananich says with added personnel needed to keep up sanitization, that means even fewer patrons allowed in.

He says local watering holes would never survive at that rate.

Several bars have already been listed for sale during the pandemic, including Live House and The Shady Lady.