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Bars reopen in Washoe County; owners still upset they had to close

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 12:22 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The bars are reopening in Washoe County.

Again.

For now.

Since late July Nevada businesses that only serve alcohol have been closed by state leaders after a sharp jump in COVID-19 cases. Now they can host customers once again.

“I think a lot of people expect us to be like ‘woo-hoo’ and all excited and stuff but we should have been open the whole time,” said Chapel Tavern owner, T. Duncan Mitchell.

Chapel is just one of many places that have been closed for nearly two months. The staff was not given a reason as to why they had to close, according to Mitchell.

“There is still a level of frustration there (with closing)," Mitchell said. "We’re not going to get that money back. I’ve been bleeding money through this whole process.”

Mitchell also owns Von Bismarck off of Wells Avenue. The German restaurant stayed open because it served food even though the cleanliness protocols were the same at Chapel.

Some of Mitchell’s employees had to serve at pop-up bars on the Von Bismarck grounds so they could support themselves.

“We all know that having food doesn’t prevent Coronavrius," said Mitchell. "Everybody eats so if that could have prevented it then no one would have it.”

Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick has been all over Coronavirus protocols. There are some changes customers can see when they do go out. Groups of three can sit at a bar-top, and people can only open one tab to keep swapping cash and cards to a minimum.

Dick added some other advice.

“Please wash your hands, continue to wear masks when you’re not actively eating or drinking and properly socially distancing. You’re not allowed to congregate when you’re in other areas of the bar.”

Mitchell was frustrated to see there were not major changes to the reopening plan.

“It’s more or less the same thing," Mitchell said of the plan. "I even had a huge meeting with my staff yesterday and they were like ‘oh, nothing has changed,’ and I was like ‘yup, pretty much.’ We have to put up a different poster.”

The staff at Chapel has been obeying the rules from the start," says Mitchell.

“I think we can go right back in and be business as usual.”

Owners must operate at 50% capacity, and follow the mask mandate.

Any violations will be enforced by Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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