Lamont Says He's in No Great Rush to Open Bars

Bars struggling to survive the pandemic may see their reopening in jeopardy as the governor watches COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of the country.

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After three and a half years, New Haven’s The Beer Collective has served its last brew. In a Facebook post, owners noted how hard COVID-19 has hit the service industry, saying “we are unable to keep the doors open any longer.”

Their decision comes as Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday bar reopenings are still on the table but pointed to states where they are open and where COVID-19 is spreading.

“Texas is closing bars, and Arizona is closing bars, and Florida is closing bars because they see that as a highly contagious area,” said Lamont. “I’m not in any great rush to open our bars.”

The bars were originally part of phase three reopening and were pushed back to phase four which is in July.  While New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker says the city relies heavily on the service industry, and he understands the impact on workers and businesses, he eyes the long-term recovery.  

“While economically people are struggling now, they’re really going to struggle if we have another outbreak and we have to push our reopening down many future months,” said Elicker.

Stony Creek Brewery general manager David Herrington says they’ve felt the ripple effect of bars being closed, causing a slowdown in distribution to food service customers who haven’t placed orders.

“The on-premise sales are way down as you can imagine,” said Herrington.  

They’ve also lost 95 percent of taproom sales during the closures but found a spike in retail sales.

“We actually rebranded our core cranky beers and came out with two new hazy beers,” said David Herrington, general manager of Stony Creek Brewery. He says they also added a new hard seltzer to add to the mix.

“The little slow down in the taproom actually let us refocus on the brew side which allowed us to do all these new projects, which tremendously helped our sales,” said Herrington.

Those retail sales are on the rise during the shutdown. Herrington says they’re up 12 percent in sales at grocery and package stores. It’s a little boost while they wait for bars to reopen so they can recover taproom and bar distribution sales.

It continues to be a difficult time for the service industry, where reopening the doors mean more pours and more profits.

“From that standpoint the sooner (bars open) the better, however we understand that you have to put health and safety first,” said Herrington.

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