As of right now, bars in nine of the state’s 15 counties can reopen.
But don’t expect them to look and operate the way they did before the governor ordered them shuttered in March.
• No dancing.
• No karaoke.
• No darts or pool.
Put simply, they have to operate more like a restaurant, complete with food. And the number of customers is limited to half normal capacity.
The nine counties all have achieved at least “moderate’’ status as far as the spread of COVID-19. And that permits not just bars but also gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and water parks to reopen.
Only thing is, they have to agree to a laundry list of restrictions, as state health officials say there still is a risk from the coronavirus. So for each of these businesses, the mission now is finding ways to open with limited capacity and limited activities and still make a living.
The counties at moderate are Apache, Cochise, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima and Yavapai. And the infection rates in Greenlee County are so low that the Arizona Department of Health Services says they have achieved “minimal spread’’ status. That will give businesses there even more flexibility.
It’s not just bars in these nine counties where bars will again be allowed to operate, albeit in a scaled-back fashion.
Gyms and fitness centers can also reopen their doors to half of the normal capacity, with requirements for other restrictions. Ditto movie theaters, water parks and tubing operations.
But traditional bars and nightclubs won’t be able to reopen, as they used to operate until the county rate for positive tests comes back at 3%.
Still, there are current options for bars that can reconfigure how they do business. The list of dos and don’ts is extensive. And it goes beyond the ban on dancing, singing and games.
It starts when people arrive.
The state wants at least 10 square feet for each person in the waiting area, with anyone in the queue required to mask up. Overflow has to go outside, even to the point of would-be customers waiting in their cars.
Customers can choose between sitting at the bar or a table with the obligatory six-foot distance between parties. But once someone is seated, that’s it, - except to go to the bathroom. And that, in turn, requires putting back on the mask.
Salad bars and buffets where people can serve themselves are forbidden.
And customers are unlikely to find a bottle of ketchup on the table. It’s not a gourmet thing. It’s just that the health department wants single-service helpings, whether in packets or small bowls.
Even the experience of paying is likely to be altered, with staff required to wipe down any pens, touchpads or other hard surfaces between each use.
Gyms and fitness centers present a different set of hurdles. Here, too, it starts at the door with a requirement for customers to submit to temperature checks or at least be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
They can operate only at 25% capacity.
Masks are required at all times, along with physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
There can be classes for Pilates, Zumba and other fitness exercises. But expect to find lines on the floor to demonstrate where people can safely stand.
Theaters can fill up to half their seats—but only if they can do so by limiting groups to no more than 10, separating groups by at least 6 feet and keeping every other row empty.
Customers should count on having to wear a mask other than while eating or drinking at a seat. And look for more time between shows to avoid crowds and allow better air circulation.