This past Friday night after the rains moved through, and things cooled down I met some friends at a bar in Marion. Normally we'd sit inside and enjoy a few drinks and each other's company, but that wasn't possible thanks to an order from Governor Reynolds. But that didn't stop the bar I was at and many others in the corridor from finding ways to keep their business open.

COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Iowa. So last week Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds decided to close bars in six Iowa counties, including Linn and Johnson counties. If a bar's sales are at least 50% food, then they can remain open, but they may only serve drinks until 10 p.m. That same rule applies for restaurants. But what about bars that don't serve food, or their sales don't total anywhere near 50%? You have to think fast and use your surroundings to your benefit.

Take uptown Marion. There is an alleyway called the Uptown Artway. It is a public space that is used by several local Marion bars including Brick Alley and Uptown Snug. The space has room for countless tables all spread six feet apart for social distancing. You could simply order your drinks to go and then take them to your table. Sure you have to be finished by 10 p.m. but it was still a nice way to get out with friends and have a drink or two.

I really feel for bar owners and their staff. They didn't ask for this pandemic, yet they're the ones bearing the brunt of the financial hardships. I encourage everyone to be safe and do your part to social distance. I also encourage you to find ways to support local businesses. Every dollar you spend could save a job or storefront.

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