Joplin council votes to reopen bars under new Recovery Plan guidelines

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin city council members amend the city’s recovery plan after a large turnout in support for a local bar. Phase I of the plan began on Monday after guidelines were passed in an emergency meeting last week.

Judy Petty, owner of Frank’s Lounge in Joplin, stepped up to the podium at Tuesday night’s meeting in support for a change in the rules. Under current guidelines, bars must remain closed until later in Phase II of the plan, which would not occur for at least four more weeks. 

Petty stated that while her business is a bar, operations could be easily be updated to abide by social distancing guidelines that restaurants are currently operating under. She added that spacing out customers to every three seats and frequent disinfecting of bars, booths, and restrooms would be included. Petty stated that allowing restaurants to operate under social distancing guidelines was unfair to bars that are forced to remain closed and lose at least a month’s worth of profit.

Petty wasn’t alone, though. About half of the audience in attendance were supporters of Frank’s Lounge reopening.

“I have a right to make a living, I have a right to see my friends who come in. The people who come into that lounge are like family to me,” Petty told the council. 

After almost two hours of discussion, the council voted to amend the plan with a 6-3 vote. Under the new guidelines, bars may reopen so as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines. 

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