SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Following a three-month closure, bars are back in Santa Barbara.
Since reopening last Friday, O'Malleys Bar has been packed with loyal customers.
“It’s exciting that people are out and about,” O’Malleys Bar Manager Duane Jeter said. “We’re very, very fortunate because everybody is coming out and supporting the bars.”
Many people are happy to sit back with a drink in hand and enjoy a seat overlooking State Street.
“I thought this would be a good time to celebrate with my friend and enjoy O’Malleys outside,” Tom Gaglio said.
“Just seeing people out and re-engaging,” Wes Clanton said. “I think it’s important in all of our lives right now.”
In order to safely reopen with guidelines from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, O’Malleys installed plexiglass along their bar and expanded seating outside with a front patio to allow for extra spacing.
The sports bar also temporarily turned off their jukebox and is not allowing people to dance.
“You can’t dance, I feel like that’s half the experience at a bar scene,” Santa Barbara resident Casey Mendez joked.
“It makes it so that we don’t have as many people congested inside,” Jeter said. “Allows us to spread everybody out amongst the whole space of the bar.”
On Thursday, a statewide order from California Governor Gavin Newsom requires people to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when six-foot social distancing isn’t possible.
“I don’t really understand how they’re going to enforce that,” Mendez said. “I don’t know how you can pick someone up from the sidewalk and tell them to put a mask on, and what if they don’t have a mask.”
On Thursday, 82 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Santa Barbara County, marking the largest jump in the county yet.
There have now been 2,253 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County.
Despite these concerns, most people seem to enjoy drinking at the bars once again.
“Outside without the smell of the interior, I love it,” Gaglio concluded.
While business has been solid since reopening, O'Malleys anticipates even more people returning once professional sports start up again in late July.