Ada County bars get the green light to open once the CDH moves schools into the yellow category

Posted at 10:22 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 09:14:06-04

IDAHO  — The Central District Health Board approved a plan for Ada County bars to reopen once the CDH moves the schools into category yellow.

A group of ten bar owners asked the CDH to reconsider their mandatory shutdown order they issued in June.

"When the bars opened in early June, it wasn't long until we had a lot of cases coming out of the bars," said Central District Health Director, Russell Duke. "There were ten individuals that were infectious that visited multiple bars over the course of a weekend, and from that, we had several patrons as well as staff that became infected. "

But, now, with positive cases trending downward, the bars created a petition to reopen because of the tremendous economic hardships the owners and employees are facing.

"We very well will have seven of these bars next week and four of these bars the week after with each of them losing their lease," said the attorney representing the bars, David Leroy. "There will be economic consequences and 25 employees on the street for each such bar."

In their petition, it states that all bars will require face coverings, enforce social distancing with security guards, and require customers to sit at tables that are socially distanced, to name a few.

"I do feel like with the restrictions described, and if the bars are sincere in taking the steps that they are proposing, they'll look very much like restaurants in the way that services are provided," said Duke.

But, the board still has concerns.

"How do you and your staff feel in regards to opening bars before we even open schools in regards to knowing the risks and that our case counts are still too high?" said CDH board member, Ted Epperly.

"If they do their job and they are requesting the opportunity to do so and using security staff to enforce the order, it's my recommendation to give them that opportunity," said Duke.

He said they have advanced their contact tracing and would be able to identify where outbreaks occur and shut the bar down.

"We have enough data and enough experience now we could even further pinpoint the problem areas versus the county-wide issue of a quarantine order," said Duke.

If a bar doesn't follow the approved guidelines, it will be shut down.

"If we have a bar, for example, that is open and no face coverings by staff, no limitations of group sizes, it's our expectations of law enforcement would then enforce our orders."

The CDH has to approve the bar's plans for reopening before they can officially open their doors.