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Rochester bars committed to customer safety despite nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases traced to bars

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Coronavirus isn't slowing down in one type of establishment, in fact, it's being blamed for increasing states' surges. Bars are being called hot spots for the disease, especially those businesses that aren't following social distancing and where patrons don't wear masks while in close proximity to others. Health officials say they're why there's a rising number of cases in people 20 to 30 years old.

Minnesota health officials are worried about bars and are continuing efforts to help the industry.

"There have been a lot of conversations with leaders in the hospitality industry, with the folks particularly representing the restaurant and bar industry," said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

Bars and restaurants in Rochester have been committed to keeping customers safe.

"We had a big staff training before we reopened so we're keeping 6 feet in between everyone we're sanitizing all the hot spots every half an hour," says Nellie's on 3rd Assistant GM Rick McCoy.

"Well we follow the CDC guidelines plus the Governor's guidelines," said Terza GM Felipe NaVarro. "[We are] taking that extra step, [paying] a lot more attention to detail when it comes to getting the guests in, monitoring their time of exposure to us and us to them, creating a safe environment for both the consumer and the employees."

The state has passed guidelines and sent several memos to bars and restaurants, but officials aren't just worried about the bars themselves.

"At this point we're focused on actions on the individual level and on a really aggressive and effective communication campaign to both the public and the owners of these establishments that these aren't suggestions, these are rules that need to be followed," says Malcolm.

Some have noticed many in the general public have started to relax their attentiveness to stopping virus spread.

"I feel like sometimes people have definitely relaxed a little bit on face masks but for the most part I think people are doing their due diligence in trying to be protective and wear protective gear," said bar patron Leigh Dzubay.

The biggest concern for bars remains keeping customers and employees safe.

"Hoping it doesn't come to [being shut down again] but we'll just have to take it in stride and see what happens," said McCoy.

"We're taking each day as it comes so we're just following the guidelines from the state and doing what we can to keep our guests and our staff safe throughout this," said Chester's Assistant GM Stacy Brambrink.

The possibility of a potential shut down again is concerning to some.

"It is worrying because it took so much just to get us where we are," said NaVarro.

However, the customers are glad to have a little normalcy again.

"We're just excited to be back out and playing and it's been great weather the last two weeks so it's been fun," said Dzubay.

Zach Fuller

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