RALEIGH — The N.C. Bar Owners Association has issued a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper demanding that private bars and clubs be allowed to open, stating that “continuing to keep us closed is complete economic discrimination.”
“Enough is enough. Stop the unequal treatment and REOPEN Private Bars today,” the letter from NC Bar Owners Association (NCBOA) says.
NCBOA is already suing the governor over his executive orders, which have kept bars and clubs closed since mid- March of 2020. The letter, dated Jan. 22, also targets the governor for his uneven treatment of the bar and club industry.
“The North Carolina Bar Owners Association says enough is enough. We 1063 Private Bar Owners have had enough of being the ONLY business in North Carolina that cannot allow customers inside,” the letter reads. “We have had enough of the other 6000 ABC permittees being able to operate, including the State-owned ABC stores, while we remain closed.”
The letter goes on to state bar owners are tired of being “blamed for spreading Covid-19 while we have not even been open. We have had enough of being told ‘science and data’ show that we should remain closed, while zero ‘science and data’ has been provided to evidence those claims. We have had enough of watching your administration destroy the lives of thousands of people.”
The letter cites other areas of the country where bars have been allowed to operate again, such as Chicago, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushed for bars to be opened immediately. Also noted in the letter is that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Service has indicated COVID-19 is being spread in homes and among family members.
“It is well past time to reopen us, Governor. Our pleas to grant us the opportunity to even discuss it has been and continue to be, ignored. For months. Over 10 to be exact. We are capable and responsible business owners and citizens of NC,” NCBOA’s letter says, adding that they can enforce social distancing and mitigation strategies better than other businesses which are already allowed to operate.
The letter calls Cooper’s actions keeping them closed “blatant prejudice” and says that the governor has “refused to allow us to earn a living, provide for our families and contribute to the economy over the last 10+ months solely via your ‘Executive Order.’”
Earlier this month, bar owners discovered their permits had either been canceled or were approaching payment-due status with no notice from the Alcohol Beverage Commission. NCBOA cried foul as clubs were still closed, arguing that the deferment for permits and fees passed by the legislature last year should still be still in place.
When asked about the cancelations, Jeff Strickland, public affairs director for the ABC, said that the canceled permits for the bars were being moved into “inactive status” and will be moved to active when the bars are ready to reopen. Strickland said they would work with the bars through the process as things progress.