As bars reopen, owners ask customers and other bars to stick to COVID-19 safety guidelines

The number of businesses across the state that applied to reopen is staggering.

The Arizona Department of Health Services says nearly 1,000 pledged to reopen using COVID-19 safeguards, with 700 signing up on Thursday alone.

Experts know a lot more about the coronavirus than they did last time the state reopened, especially that cases and deaths can be kept down by wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large crowds.

And doing it is just good business.

McKenzie's Midtown Tavern reopened on Thursday night slow and easy on purpose. There was no publicity and it was at half capacity, with COVID-19 protections, like plexiglass, all around from the bar to the bathroom and back.

"Yeah it was good to see people again and be able to get them out in a safe environment," said owner Ryan McKenzie.

There's a lot at stake the second time around like at Mooney's Irish Pub in Sedona.

They can't afford to close again so that means keeping their house in order and customers in line.

"It's just trying to keep sort of customers in their sort of slow-lane for the time being, [and] certain rules need to be followed," owner Ian Juul said.

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Despite the strict safety measures, complaints are already coming in about businesses breaking the rules.

In Maricopa County alone, 243 complaints came in on Thursday, Aug. 27.

It hasn't happened at Mooney's or McKenzie's, but every bar owner knows, one wrong move could mean curtains.

"One phone call or one photo or anything, they're going to be watching every move. They don't want to have what happened last time go on," McKenzie said.

So all these businesses made the pledge and are now on notice, and they hope customers realize it, too: their establishment and the state simply can't afford a second shut down.

"They're not our rules. We accept them. We understand why they are here. I think the community could be a little more understanding. What we're asking of them would be great," Juul said.

Mooney's Irish Pub is one of more than 100 bars still suing the state. They feel that their type of bar didn't get a fair shake when they were shut down, while other bars with different types of liquor licenses were allowed to remain open.

Maricopa, Navajo and Pima Counties reach COVID-19 benchmarks, allowing for business re-openings

Counties in Arizona are expected to be at a "moderate spread" by Aug. 27, allowing for several businesses to begin reopening, but with health precautions in place.

Bar owners express frustration as bars in restaurants are allowed to operate amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

As restaurant bars are open and social distancing rules appear to not be followed, owners of bars that are not inside restaurants are getting frustrated.

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MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code


CDC: How coronavirus spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ

Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ:

On, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily