Social Bar adapting to COVID-19 restrictions

Social Bar owner Amy Sutherland has been dealing with the financial stresses brought on by the pandemic shutting her doors for the last two months.

It’s been a tough journey for Social Bar owner Amy Sutherland who has been dealing with the financial stresses brought on by the pandemic shutting her doors for the last two months.

She is eager to get back to work but understands that the health and safety of the community are paramount.

“Well, I think probably the most important thing is people’s safety right now. We just haven’t done enough testing on Guam to really know where we are at with coronavirus. But it’s certainly detrimental to our business. We are not making any revenue and we certainly have expenses that we are paying out like rent and electricity. We have liability insurance … those types of things,” Sutherland said.

She added: “Whether it’s safe to get people that haven’t been together whether it’s a family or into a social interaction environment without knowing all that … I’m sort of okay waiting a little longer to see what happens.”

Pandemic Condition of Readiness guidelines have set criteria for opening back up the island and unfortunately for those in the bar industry where being “social” is the name of the game, PCOR-2 means their doors stay closed.

That also means that Amy and her four employees have been without a paycheck for weeks.

“We’ve got five employees including myself and of course they were laid off and I have followed every step of getting the employees into unemployment and so waiting for that to kick in will be a big relief for them. Fortunately, they have been able to get help from family members, we’ve helped them as well,” Sutherland said.

The global health crisis and its impacts on her livelihood has made her shift her thinking and business planning.

“We do quite a bit of fundraising which is probably our main revenue stream. So looking at our business down the road, not having large gatherings will significantly impact our revenue,” she said.

To keep her business afloat, Sutherland said she has also begun figuring out how to implement social distancing measures at the Social Bar for when they are authorized to open.

“So we are going to be able to do things like separate our tables farther apart. We have two pool tables we have the ability to move them farther apart so that when different groups people come in they can sort of have space. Because again I think people like family members …we want to follow social distancing so that they are not on top of each other,” Sutherland said.

She added: “Everyone sort of misses the camaraderie of it but I’m hopeful in the near future there can be some semblance of what we used to have.”