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As coronavirus lockdowns ease, venues that rely on having crowds of drinkers interacting with each other, often in confined spaces and with fewer inhibitions, are rethinking their spaces and changing how they do business, or deciding to stay shut.
In the U.S., bars are being allowed to reopen in some states but are up against strict restrictions. In Texas, bars are permitted to reopen Friday at 25% capacity, half the allowance made to restaurants. Other states, like Florida and Nebraska, have allowed restaurants to reopen but for now bars are closed.
“The place will look empty but it doesn’t matter to us so long as it can get started back up,” said Lewis Smith, the general manager of The Brass Tap in Austin, Texas, ahead of reopening.
But some bars and clubs say they won’t reopen until social distancing guidelines are withdrawn, citing the cost of operating with fewer patrons. Owners say they need to run at a higher capacity than many restaurants because drinkers typically spend less than those sitting down for a meal.