Uptown bars host patrons amid COVID-19


A sign marked “No Bar Service” sits on the bar at Bruno’s Tavern. Bruno’s is one of many bars in New Orleans that has been forced to adapt with new protocols as a result of current COVID-19 related restrictions. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

Artie Bennett

New Orleans is currently at Phase 3.3 of reopening, which allows all bars and restaurants to resume business at 25% of indoor seating capacity with a maximum of 50 individuals and 100% of outdoor seating capacity with a maximum of 50 individuals, according to NOLA Ready. While the bars near campus are known for their college crowd, some students worry that reopening poses a risk to their health.

Bruno’s, a popular destination among college students, said that they have “a fair amount” of students attending but “not as many as usual.” They said they’re currently only doing table service and checking employees’ temperatures daily.

Customers are asked to not come in if they’re experiencing any symptoms, and there’s a strict “no loitering” policy. Masks are required for both indoor and outdoor seating, and the bar said it is closely watching COVID-19 guidelines issued by the state.

Some students are concerned about the reopening of bars. History with international studies freshman Leila Jones said that it’s irresponsible to be in such a tight space with other people.

“Bars are places where you’re meant to mingle,” Jones said.

Makiya Tucker, design freshman, said that they’re “definitely only open for the money.”

Students are also worried about whether or not businesses are doing enough to keep their customers safe.

“I think they’re doing their best to make the environments safe, but I don’t think it’s enough to truly protect their patrons,” Jones said.

The Boot, located behind both Tulane and Loyola universities, is a popular destination for college students. On most evenings pre-pandemic, you could spot crowds of students streaming in and out of the bar.

The Boot, contacted on Oct. 2, declined to comment when prompted on how local businesses were handling the pandemic. The establishment’s only physical indication of following guidelines includes a sign outside the entrance to the bar reminding patrons that “Masks are required for entry.”

This summer, Tigerland bars in Baton Rouge were linked to more than 100 coronavirus cases, according to The Advocate. According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, at least 230 coronavirus cases were connected to bars this summer.

“I do think bars and even restaurants are a part of spreading the virus,” Jones said. “It’s a bunch of people often not wearing masks in spaces where air is shared and that can definitely lead to the virus carrying from one person to another. I know I’ll be staying away from bars for a long time until I know everyone will be safe and healthy.”