RICHMOND, Va. – Escapate Bar and Lounge on Hull Street in Richmond has reopened after being shut down by the Virginia Department of Health.
8News spoke with restaurant owner Edwin Dubon, who said he was unknowingly breaking COVID-19 rules and regulations.
“Basically, it was my fault because I didn’t read the guidelines,” Dubon said.
A video surfaced on social media from inside his nightclub showing no social distancing and barely wearing masks.
“Every bar that you go (to) or nightclub, they’re doing the same,” Dubon said. “I mean, they don’t follow the guidelines, so I thought it was OK.”
Latin dance is known for its close contact. “Our culture is basically when you go to a bar or lounge and they got music, you gonna dance,” Dubon said. Moving forward, however, Dubon revealed he won’t allow dancing inside his business.
The declaration comes after Dubon received a notice on Thursday, Sept. 24, saying his permit was revoked until he made corrections.
To comply, Dubon blocked the bar so customers must order drinks six feet away. Additionally, posted social distancing signs were visible on the floor and wall. Dubon also implemented one sole entrance and one sole exit for customers. His employees also take temperatures at the door, provide hand sanitizer, and require masks inside. The only time a patron can take it off is when they are eating or drinking.
“The guidelines of Phase 3 are ridiculous to me,” Dubon said. “Hopefully, we come to 100 percent pretty soon to open the economy because it is hurting everybody, not just me.”
He spent one full day fixing the errors noted from health inspectors. Dubon said his business could not afford to stay closed any longer as he has not received any assistance during the pandemic.
“I got shut down for three months and hurt. I mean, I pay $1,200 rent in here,” Dubon said. “The government needs to look out for small businesses like me.”
Dubon wants the rules from the health department to be more clear and the reprimands to be fair across the board.
“I feel uncomfortable like I’ve been pointed (out), but it is what it is when you make a mistake,” Dubon said.
His advice to other business owners: follow the rules or expect to possibly get shut down.
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