Blacksburg bars brace for fewer COVID-19 restrictions


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – Bars and restaurants are shifting gears again after Governor Ralph Northam eased more COVID-19 restrictions.

You can now sit at the bar.

Governor Northam relaxed Executive Order 72, which deals only with COVID-19 restrictions.

“The governor is, you know, step by step and we applaud that,” said Jerry Smith, vice president of the Roanoke Regional Restaurant Group.

Before in a bar or restaurant you could only be seated at tables adjacent to the bar, but now you can get up and sit down – as long as the groups are 6 feet apart.

“We would love to fully open up and go back, but we all have our unique challenges, we have staffing issues. We now have a lot of mitigation issues that we haven’t had in the past, ”Smith said.

Smith says that while the restrictions being lifted are significant, many places are still trying to hire more people to keep up with demand, while still having to end liquor sales at midnight.

“It really doesn’t make any difference in terms of business operations. What it helps, it helps customers with convenience, it gives them that little bit of normalcy that they can “oh we can sit in a bar now,” ”Smith said.

Smith says that at the end of the day, they just hope they will be allowed to stand again until 2 a.m.

“Because we’re in a college town and our clientele is always up until 2am, and that would help us keep more staff because we’re able to provide more staff,” Smith said.

Many owners are also hoping that more restrictions will be relaxed by Memorial Day, as they anticipate a big business day for many bars and restaurants in many of our hometowns.

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