Bar and club operations are now back in business this week, as Hutchinson released a directive effective May 26, allowing services to resume.

It’s been roughly two months since Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson shut down all bars and clubs in Arkansas due to COVID-19.

Bar and club operations are now back in business this week, as Hutchinson released a directive effective May 26, allowing services to resume.

While a night out with friends for some drinks, music and fun would be a perfect remedy for a quarantine coop-up, with the restrictions in place, a night out on the town will be an experience like no other.

“Cover charges will include temperature checks and a mask,” said Niche’ Walker, owner of The Spot Lounge and Restaurant located at 111 W. 5th St. in Pine Bluff. “If you don’t have a mask, you can’t come in.”

Walker, who is choosing not to reopen this week, said when she does open, the guidelines will be strictly enforced.

The Spot Lounge is a restaurant by day and a party atmosphere by night. Walker said she plans to reopen next week but the club vibe will be quite different from what party goers are used to.

According to the directive seating shall be limited to op to 33% of total seating capacity.

Tables must be 10-feet apart and seating at the bar shall maintain six feet of physical distancing between individuals. No more than 10 people are allowed at a table.

Even though Misty Butler of Brickhouse Bar and Grill, located at 204 S. Main in Pine Bluff, misses her customers, she is a bit skeptical about opening up.

“When people drink, people loosen up and like to hug on people and get closer to one another,’ said Butler. “It’s going to be a challenge to keep everyone on the same page as far as the guidelines and keep them six feet apart while playing pool.”

Jennifer Brooks is the manager at Hot Rods which is known for their live music and karaoke.

Located at 201 South Main in Pine Bluff, Brooks is very excited about reopening their doors.

To kick off reopening night Hot Rods will be offering free pool from 6 p.m. to midnight and on Wednesday they will host a Blues Party, but Brooks said there won’t be live music just yet.

“We will have throwback of our live music performances playing on the big screen,” said Brooks.

Entertainment operations within bars such as live music or live dancers, in-seat gaming, or arcades are permitted, effective May 19, 2020, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Entertainment involving performers, such as live musicians, singers or dancers must be separated from the audience by at least 12 feet.

Performers or players may be without a face covering if they are 12 feet from other persons, including other performers. Performers should wear a face covering while not performing according to Arkansas Department of Health.

Live entertainment may be permitted but dancing by patrons is not. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, dancing is prohibited during Phase One of reopening.

The Spot Lounge usually packs the dance floor with a house DJ spinning the latest hits.

From private parties to birthday celebrations, Walker said even though she will be renting the building out, the directives and guidelines set by the ADH will be strictly enforced.

“They are going to have to wear a mask,” said Walker. “I’m usually in the building so I’ll be able to manage that.”

The directive from ADH also calls for proper sanitation.

Following each drink or meal service, the tables, chairs, menus and any other frequently contacted surfaces, including, but not limited to, condiment containers, napkin holders and salt/pepper shakers, shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to seating the next customer.

“We’ve sanitized our glasses and all of our acoustics,” said Brooks. “We are doing everything to follow the guidelines from ADH and the mayor.

Brooks said she contacted the mayor’s office for clarification and approval.

“We usually stay open until 5 a.m. but we were told to abbreviate our hours,” said Brooks. “Monday - Thursday we will open from 6 p.m. to midnight. Friday and Saturday we will close at 2 a.m.”

Staff of Brickhouse Bar and Grill will sanitize throughout the day on top of the deep cleaning that is done every morning.

In-seat gaming, arcades, billiards, and other games that patrons physically touch will be disinfected between each use.

Drinks shall be served to customers in individual glasses/containers. No shared containers of drinks, such as pitchers of beer or mixed drinks, are allowed according to ADH.

Self-service operations, including, but not limited to, bar snacks (pretzels, peanuts, etc.), buffets, and condiment bars shall remain closed for patron access.

Brooks said she is very optimistic that operations will be back to normal soon but in the meantime, they will adjust to the new normal.

Butler explains the safety of her customers, bartenders and the community is her number one priority and she will do what needs to be done to keep everyone safe.

“As long as the customers will follow all guidelines, I believe the opening transition is a good thing,” said Butler. “But if it becomes a problem, I will close it back down until looser guidelines become available and/or COVID-19 passes.”