11 p.m. curfew ends for most bars across the state

New Orleans bars still have to close.

New COVID-19 restrictions

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The 11 p.m. last call is officially over Wednesday for most bars across the state, except those in New Orleans.

“When we got shut down last March, we struggled that day to find the keys, to lock the front door and learn the alarm code because we don’t ever shut down. I didn’t have the keys,” Lisa Colby said.

It’s been a whirlwind year for Colby’s Cocktails. Owner Lisa Colby finally feels some much needed relief as she’ll be able to keep her doors open 24/7 once again.

“My phone started blowing up, all of the bartenders, a lot of our regulars who have my number,” Colby said.

The local pool league is starting back up, and Colby is thankful she wont have to kick them all out at 11 p.m. only to try and get more people back in the stools at 8 a.m.

While she’s excited, simply doing away with the curfew isn’t a fix-all solution.

“The financial aspect has been brutal and there’s not a lot of assistance, and I mean, I’m not the only bar owner,” Colby said. “I know there’s a lot, it’s nationwide, worldwide and, you know, there’s a lot of government money coming in, but it’s not being filtered to the bars.”

Colby’s lost bartenders during the slow times and has been scraping by on the bills. This won’t be like flipping a switch.

“I think it’s it’s going to be a very, very slow process and not just for Jefferson Parish, where I live, Orleans Parish, I can’t imagine how those bar owners are making rent,” Colby said.

Many are having trouble and a group of at least 30 have decided to team up with a unified message - #endclosingtime.

“Historically there are many, many places, Cooter Brown’s included, where that 11 to 1 a.m. time is where we make our money for the week,” Jeff O’Bryon said.

Owner Jeff O’Bryon says Cooter Brown’s has been getting busy right around 10:45 and by closing he estimates they lose about 10 to 20 percent each night, so he would take any closing time past 11 at this point.

“We’re 100% on board for whatever it is the city and the state tell us to do,” O’Bryon said. “We’ll do whatever they do. We just hope that it makes a bit more sense and and keeps us in mind when they’re making the decisions.”

O’Bryon says he doesn’t want everything to go back to normal just yet. COVID hasn’t disappeared, but he says Cooter Brown’s has been working hard like many others to make sure they are following COVID protocol.

“It doesn’t make a ton of sense that someone could take a two minute Uber ride, be in Jefferson Parish and be able to stay out until 8 in the morning,” O’Bryon said.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association is also urging Mayor Latoya Cantrell to get rid of the curfew, citing the city’s incredibly low positivity rate, number of new cases and hospitalizations. Saying, in part, it’s because of the support and sacrifices coming from our restaurants, bars and hotels.

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