Theaters, bars hoping Phase 3 announcement comes this week, allows them to reopen

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In the next couple of days, North Carolina could learn of the next reopening steps for the state.

Phase 2.5 is set to expire on Friday and a COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Several businesses are anxious for Phase 3, hoping they’ll finally be able to open their doors nearly seven months after they first closed.

That list of closed businesses include movie theaters, event venues, theaters, concert venues and bars.

For Theatre Charlotte, they say they’ve missed more than 50 curtain calls and 11,000 tickets went unsold as part of the longest intermission of their life.

“I have truly missed the interaction between the stage and the audience. And I also miss the revenue that goes with it," said Ron Law with Theatre Charlotte.

Law says Theatre Charlotte was forced to cancel several productions, which he estimates cost the theatre more than six figures in revenue. The theatre adapted to some outdoor performances, which were sold out for the 50 person max outdoor gathering, but Law says it’s just not the same.

“The actors rehearsed the entire time with masks on. There was supposed to be a kiss. Not happening," he said.

With Phase 3 a close possibility, Law is hoping they get the green light to reopen. But they’re not sure yet if they will reopen immediately. Law says it comes down to what the capacity of the theatre can be and what the other restrictions are. He says a smaller capacity inside the theater might not make enough money to pay for the royalty rights it takes to put on a show.

“Every time the governor comes out and makes an announcement, we’re right there. We’re hoping he announces phase 3," Law said.

Theatre Charlotte isn’t the only theater anxiously waiting to know what’s going on. Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte also waiting to open their doors. They say though they will also wait to bring audience members back inside until both audiences and cast members feel completely safe. They say it might take longer to truly get people back into those seats.

Many bar owners on the other hand say they’d open as soon as this weekend if they’re given permission.

“We can operate safety, given the opportunity. Which we’ve bene asking for, for almost seven months now," said Michaele Laria.

Laria and her husband own Jeff’s Bucket Shop, a local dive bar. Since the pandemic, her husband has started to drive for Uber just to make ends meet. Michaele, an outgoing person by nature, is desperate for people to be back.

“I have the rose water to spray in here and say the Lord’s prayer and hope and hope that it happens this weekend. I’ll burn some sage, I’ll do whatever it takes to do," she said.

In Laria’s estimate, she thinks there’s only a few hundred bars that are still truly closed. She says most of them have found some kind of loophole in the order to open. She says she doesn’t understand why bars are closed but restaurants can open and fill a room. She says if restaurants can open, bars should be next.

“We’re getting a little frustrated. It’s not fair. It’s singling us out,” said Laria. “Are we meant to carry the responsibility on our shoulders of saving North Carolina and the US from the coronavirus? I think not.”

Laria says if Governor Cooper doesn’t announce Phase 3 and let bars open, they are going ahead with a planned protest in Uptown Charlotte with several others bar owner to demand they be allowed to reopen.

That protest is scheduled for Thursday. A North Carolina COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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