The New Normal: Going to the bar

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The COVID-19 case count continues to rise in Hawaii, with the virus taking the lives of dozens of local residents. 

But the coronavirus isn’t just killing people—it’s killing local businesses. 

For those that like to imbibe and want to support local bars and nightclubs, officials urge you to do so responsibly. 

Governor David Ige allowed bars and nightclubs to reopen in June, so long as they follow strict safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Now, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has slapped more restrictions: among the new rules, bars and nightclubs must stop selling alcohol by midnight. Failure to do so could result in a mandatory 24-hour shutdown, fines, and the possibility of the business having its liquor license suspended or revoked. 

At Pitch Sports Bar, located at Salt at our Kakaako, owner Keita Yamamoto says he has implemented the new safety guidelines.

“We’re at a bar, we’re a place where people gather, so we are taking the guidelines very seriously,” he explained. 

“We had to rearrange all the tables to keep everyone 6 feet apart. We require everyone to wear a face mask. You are allowed to remove it when you sit at your table. And we don’t allow anyone to order directly from the bartender anymore.” 

Yamamoto gestured at the bar stools that flank the front of the bar, which have been turned upside down to block customers from coming close to the bartender. “We got rid of the bar stools.”
If you came to the bar to buy shots, Yamamoto said “no more shot glasses, we don’t pass that around anymore.” 

Pitch Sports Bar made the move from glass to plastic cups and silverware, to further prevent the potential spread of germs. It’s an added cost to a bar that’s already struggling, but Yamamoto said he will not raise Pitch’s prices. 

The bar is longer bringing in live musicians or DJ’s for the night, either. 

If you want to bust a move on the dance floor, sorry; dancing isn’t allowed under the new safety rules. 

“We want to have an atmosphere where people gather and still in a safe environment and feel safe themselves,” said Yamamoto. 

Regardless of the new rules, bar owners hope residents continue to patronize and support local businesses. 

“Thank you very much for keeping us afloat and staying loyal to us. Bare with us. This is just the new normal. This won’t be forever. We just got to get through this, we’ll be fine.” 

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