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‘We’re always getting picked on’: Anchorage bars and restaurants go back to limited capacity

A patron at F Street Station having a drink on the first day of Anchorage Emergency Order 14 going into effect. The order puts bars back to a 25% capacity limit.
A patron at F Street Station having a drink on the first day of Anchorage Emergency Order 14 going into effect. The order puts bars back to a 25% capacity limit.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On a gloomy Friday in Anchorage, another emergency order went into effect. EO-14 is reminiscent of earlier hunker down phases of the pandemic. Now, bars in town are back to only allowing 25% capacity through the door again and restaurants 50%.

Additionally, all bars, restaurants and any business that interacts with a customer in a sit-down setting for more than 15 minutes must go back to collecting contact tracing information under EO-14.

At Darwin’s Theory, Darwin Biwer said they’ve been seeing far fewer people. Now he’s wondering how they’re going to make any money when they’re only allowed to have up to 13 people at the bar including the staff.

Like many in the industry, he said he’s feeling singled out.

“You know, we’re always getting picked on,” he said. “Whether the mayor’s doing that on purpose or not, who knows? But the reality is there.”

This new order is particularly disappointing to Biwer because he said they’ve been working to keep people safe. They try to keep people in masks when they aren’t in their seat, ask people with coughs and sneezes to leave and they even waited until June 1 to reopen after most other bars had already started seeing customers again.

Just a few blocks over at F Street Station, there were just a few people seated around 10:30 a.m. Friday. Everyone either had a mask on their face or on the table in front of them. Everyone on staff was wearing masks and getting ready for the capacity restrictions as well.

Long-time bartender, Tiffani McNeill, said they’ve been cleaning like crazy, even “quadrupling” their bleach orders.

McNeill said the staff, as well as most patrons, think of F Street as a bar first and a place to get food second. However, right now, they’re glad to have the restaurant license.

While that allows them to have 50% capacity or about 44 people, she said they’re still “pushing it” when it comes to covering their costs.

There, and at most bars and restaurants, she said they just want to follow the rules and keep working.

“I think it’s necessary to keep the community safe and keep small business running,” she said. “And we’ll continue to do that as far as the mandates are concerned. I mean we can’t make people social distance, but we can ask them to.”

These establishments consider the new order to be another thing they have to comply with during the pandemic.

”I just wish we could get through this a lot quicker,” Biwer said. “At least we have some sports on TV now, which helps a little bit.”

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