SHAWNEE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – Tempers were high as local bar owners pleaded with Shawnee County Commissioners to allow them to loosen their restrictions on bars on Monday.
The owner of Abigail’s Bar, Frankie Saiya, said because of the restrictions, they are forced to be closed 17 hours a week. He said that’s about 20% of their operating hours and they can’t keep going like this.
Right now in Shawnee County, bars must close at midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 11 p.m. every other night. They also can’t have a dance floor and no one can sit at the bar.
“It’s starting to take it’s toll over time,” said Saiya. “It’s not going to be sustainable.”
Saiya asked the commission to loosen their restrictions, mainly asking to be allowed to stay open later. After a back and forth discussion, the commission considered changing the hour restriction despite the Shawnee County Health Officer’s request not to.
“If you are asking me to change the order, I will not do it,” said Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino. “You can hire me, you can fire me, but you will not tell me what to do.”
Dr. Pezzino said even though the new cases are going down in the county, he said the bars are too high of a risk to lower the restrictions. The commissioners decided to push discussion until Thursday where the public will be able to voice their opinions before a decision is made.
Another item that was brought up is the amount of space in the commission chambers. Dr. Pezzino scolded the commission for not having proper social distance in the room. A member of the public said she was concerned people are afraid to come to the meetings because of how small the room is.
The commission said because they live stream the meetings, it would be hard for them to meetg so for now, Thursday’s meeting will remain in the commission chambers.