‘I’m out of money’: Some bar owners look for relief after Gov. Cooper extends Phase 2 in NC


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Five more weeks North Carolina’s Phase 2 restrictions mean bars are required to keep their doors shut.

Many of those businesses say they need help.

“We need relief. We need help,” said Zack Medford. He is the president of the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association and owner of Coglin’s. “I’m out of money. We can’t pay rent anymore and those bar owners of North Carolina can’t pay rent anymore.”

Gov. Roy Cooper said bars will remain closed for at least five more weeks.

“We know that these are high transmission areas and that’s why they have remained closed,” Cooper said.

“If we’re going to be made to stay closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, then we need some type of relief plan to stay afloat,” Medford said.

In Durham, Kingfisher Cocktail Bar’s co-owner, Sean Umstead, said they’re launching an outdoor burger shop to help with revenue.

He said he understands the governor’s decision to extend Phase 2.

“My bar reopening is important, but it’s more important (that) the people in North Carolina are safe,” Umstead said. “I have no interest in sliding backwards and forwards over the next 12 to 18 months. I want to go forward as quickly as possible.”

He’d also like to see more help from the state, like allowing takeout cocktails. A proposal for it in the spring didn’t advance, but he’s hopeful it can be re-considered.

“It would be a lifeline that you could throw to these businesses, mine included, that could really help us weather every time there’s a four- or five- or six-week delay,” Umstead said.

A lawsuit from the N.C. Bar and Tavern Association seeking damages from the Cooper’s office is still making its way through court.

The governor did not specify during his press conference on Wednesday how or if he plans to help bars with financial relief. CBS 17 reached out to his office for more information.

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