Bar owners have been cautiously proceeding with plans to open their own establishments, but say there's confusion about when and how they can open.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- As restaurants across Arizona began opening their dining rooms Monday, bar owners cautiously proceeded with plans to open their establishments.

“We were really on a high when we had to close,” says Grey Halpin.

His family has operated bars in Old Town Scottsdale for about 30 years. Not long after they opened Porters Western Saloon, they had to close because of the pandemic.

The Halpin family got creative so they could keep paying the bills. Porters developed its own take-out, offering to-go cocktails and partnering with a local pizza restaurant.

“We have been selling pizza slices to go through the windows,” says Halpin.

There has been confusion about when and how to welcome customers back inside.

“What is the difference of them going to a sports bar, sitting at the bar drinking beer?” asks Halpin. “Yes, they have to order a food item, but that’s that difference from them sitting in here?”

Arizona’s Family reached out to Gov. Doug Ducey’s office for clarification. A spokesman said, like restaurants, bars can open under certain conditions. Bars must follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while offering dine-in services. The spokesman admitted the governor’s executive order stops short of defining dine-in service.

“That is deliberate, because every restaurant is different,” says Steve Chucri, president of the Arizona Restaurant Association.

Chucri is advising colleagues in the bar business to avoid pressing their luck. He suggests bars follow social distancing and operate wisely to avoid putting their licenses in jeopardy.

“We can’t have people standing and drinking or music playing with dancing going on,” says Chucri.

Porters is looking ahead to opening Friday when the governor’s stay-at-home order expires. Halpin says he’s anxious to put employees to work and get back to business.

“There’s only so much waiting you can do,” says Halpin. “We still have all of our bills coming in, you know, our staff, they’re not getting paid. Some of them are getting unemployment. Some of them aren’t.”


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