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Jefferson Parish preparing to reopen bars as soon as they can

If the parish hits that less than five percent positivity rate Wednesday, the ability for bars to open will be effective immediately.

METAIRIE, La. — At Whitey's Pool Hall in Metairie, customers are more than just people

“It’s like family,” said Adrian Hamann, who’s owned the place for 47 years.

In all those years, Hamann says the past six months have been the toughest.

“I thought this was going to be a short-term thing, but it turned out to be very elongated and costly,” Hamann said.

As bars face closures and restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamann has been able to at least keep the doors to his neighborhood bar open thanks to savings and a food permit.

“I’m lucky to be able to withstand this. I understand some people aren’t going to come through this,” Hamann said.

A vote from the Jefferson Parish Council Monday afternoon could help.

“I think it is important that bars now join the economy,” said district five councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.

That vote allows bars that only sell alcohol to reopen once the parish has two consecutive weeks of a less than 5% positivity rate from coronavirus testing, which is a requirement from the state. Parish leaders expect that to happen when new numbers are released Wednesday.

“We’re just looking to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have their businesses survive,” said division A councilmember at-large Ricky Templet

That’s good news to Hamann’s business as well, because he won’t have to serve food to stay open.

RELATED: St. James, St. John and St. Charles Parishes reopening bars in Phase 3

RELATED: Edwards extends bar hours, Jefferson Parish may opt in

Even with the reopening, safety guidelines will still be in place. Business owners are the ones responsible to make sure mask, social distancing and capacity requirements are followed. Must like everything else, Hamann says business is having to evolve.

“We’re going to find ways to do it and keep it safe,” Hamann said.

Now he’s just ready to welcome family back to the bar and put the past six months behind him.  

“I’ll be able to pay my bills again instead of taking it out of my savings and my retirement. I’ll be able to hopefully earn it,” Hamann said.

If the parish hits that less than five percent positivity rate Wednesday, the ability for bars to open will be effective immediately.

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