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Bar Owners in Ames React to 'Short Notice' Closures

AMES, Iowa — Business owners are now closing their doors and laying off employees for the second time this year as cases of COVID-19 continue to spread in their counties.

Story County is one of the six counties that were forced to close all bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and nightclubs by 5 p.m. Thursday. Bar owners there said they were surprised by the sudden proclamation.

“Flashbacks from last few months, a few months ago, really disappointed frustrated and angry, confused, the whole whirlwind of, you know, emotions,” Torrent Brewing Company Owner Andy McCormick said.

This is the second time McCormick has had to shut down his brewery this year.

“The first time, you know, we entered that closure with, you know, normal, normal revenue streams and normal bank accounts and we haven’t returned to those normal levels now Yeah, we have to try to survive, again, and unfortunately it’s not just as damaging for me it’s damaging for the community. It’s damaging for our employees I feel terrible for them,” McCormick said.

McCormick believes the high number of positive COVID-19 cases is not reflective of every business being open and therefore should be governed at a local level.

“There are places in town that do need to get closed because they’re ignoring it, and there’s places that our small businesses that are following the rules that you know should be able to stay open,” McCormick said.

Iowa State senior Ryker Connel said most bars do follow guidelines.

“To an extent they haven’t been super packed I know a lot of people are staying home because of everything but at the same time like they’ve been packed, but they’ve been taking precautions at the same time,” Connel said.

These precautions are what Blue Owl Bar manager Preston Snyder says are keeping people safe.

“You’re taking away those places where there’s a regulated factor for them to be able to go and enjoy that environment. Now you’re putting, especially the risk of college students, where, where else are they going to go now they’re going to start having those house parties again,” Snyder said.

“I mean, if there’s a will to drink, people will find a way to drink. So, yeah, in a way I feel like the house party scene will be a lot bigger,” Connel said.

Until they can reopen in person on September 20th, bars in Story county will continue to sell “to-go” drinks.