Gamerooms and restaurants can now open, so why not bars?

As in most communities, bars were a cornerstone of the nightlife in Tumon as well as a major part of the tourism industry. (PNC file photo)

The governor’s latest executive order eased restrictions on businesses in a variety of sectors, but not bars.

Bar owners on Guam have been vocal in their desire to reopen. And with businesses such as game rooms and amusement parks allowed to reopen, why are they still left out?

As in most communities, bars were a cornerstone of the nightlife in Tumon as well as a major part of the tourism industry.

Like most businesses, they were closed down in the early days of the pandemic before being allowed to reopen at 25% capacity in June.

The governor, however, would close them down again before the summer was out.

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Local bar owners held protests against the governor’s policies in response.

They protested first against the 25% limitation on capacity and then against the shutdown a few weeks later.

Thomas Peinhopf, the owner of Livehouse and The Shady Lady, even went so far as to sue the governor in court.

That litigation is still ongoing.

Many have argued that people can social distance in bars just as easily as in restaurants.

Since six feet apart in a bar is the same as six feet apart in a restaurant, bar owners argue that keeping bars closed when restaurants are allowed to operate, and even accept dine-in customers, doesn’t make sense.

Krystal Paco San-Agustin, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office, says that what makes bars different from restaurants is the way people tend to behave in bars.

“Inherently bars, nightclubs and taverns … activities that occur there are interactive. And so by their nature, you let your guard down. What do you do when you’re inside a bar? You are removing your mask, you are drinking a drink, and we all know the effects of alcohol and our decision-making processes. So that’s something we really want to revisit after the holiday season,” Paco-San Agustin said.

She added: “As you know, just in a few days, we’re about to celebrate New Year’s day, and New Year’s Eve is tomorrow. And so, we know that the celebrations that occur with those types of big holidays could impact our CAR score, could impact our positivity, and could change the course of our response and our current state and all of the progress we’ve made over the last few weeks. And so we want to revisit bars, taverns and nightclubs, but after the holidays.”

The aftermath of the holiday season will also affect PCOR criteria.

Dr. Felix Cabrera told PNC News that revisions to PCOR criteria were discussed during a meeting at Adelup yesterday morning.

But any revisions to PCOR criteria, as well as the PCOR status, will have to wait until after the holidays.

“The last thing we’d want to do is return to PCOR 2 status, and then see a spike and revert back immediately to PCOR 1. So again, the holidays could have adverse effects on our progress, we’ll continue to monitor that for the next two weeks or so. Once we’re able to confidently say there were no adverse reactions or effects of the holiday season, we could definitely revisit that PCOR status and returning to PCOR 2 status,” Paco-San Agustin said.