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'That would be detrimental': Boise bar owner reacts to latest COVID-19 recommendations from Central District Health

The health district recommended that bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries switch to take-out and carry out only and close at 10 p.m.

BOISE, Idaho — Central District Health is urging bar and restaurant owners in its four-county jurisdiction to make major adjustments to their operations in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The recommendations, issued earlier this week as a part of a public health advisory, include a 10 p.m. closing time along with implementing curbside pickup, takeout or delivery options. 

Ada County bars were already closed for a big chunk of the year and one bar owner does not plan on following the latest recommendations from the health district.

Ted Challenger runs three bars in downtown Boise: Amsterdam, Strange Love, and Dirty Little Roddy's.

He told KTVB Thursday afternoon that he's made the three bars as safe as he can, but if he followed CDH's recommendation, he couldn't pay his bills anymore.

“I'm just trying to do as little as I can to stay open and do as little business as I can just to get enough money to cover my expenses,” Challenger said.

He doesn’t offer any take-out options at his bars and closing at 10 p.m. wouldn’t be a viable option if he hopes to stay in business.

“That would mean I would only be open three hours a week. We don't even see business until 10 or 11,” he said. “That would be detrimental to our survival.”

RELATED: Boise Mayor McLean announces new COVID-19 health order, increased enforcement of face mask ordinance

The goal of CDH's advisory is to reduce community spread of the virus and preserve hospital capacity amid a disturbing surge in coronavirus cases throughout Idaho and especially in the Treasure Valley.

“It’s just funny to us, bar owners and restaurant people, that it’s so easy for them to say what they need and then they just want us to die, our businesses to die,” Challenger said.

Brandon Atkins, a spokesperson for the health district, told KTVB the recommendations are a way to try and slow the spread without shutting down businesses.

“Limiting some of those operational hours where we know heightened risk occurs is a means to an end,” he said. “It helps us find a way to reduce risk within that population and not just shut them down.”

Atkins acknowledges that many bar owners are taking precautions to keep their customers safe. Challenger has implemented plenty of COVID-19 protocols to keep his doors open.

“We have everyone wearing masks and we put up the plexiglass, we're doing the spacing,” he said.

In his nearly three decades of being in the bar business though, Challenger said this year has by far been the most challenging.

“28 years, this is the most challenging business and it is taking everything we have to navigate public opinion, safety and trying to survive and keep our business afloat,” he said.

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