Owner of overcrowded bar in Tuscaloosa talks about safety precautions

The WAAY 31 I-TEAM was there for about two hours and didn't see social distancing or masking inside the bar that night.

Posted: Aug 25, 2020 8:37 PM
Updated: Aug 25, 2020 8:52 PM

We're hearing from the owner of a bar, called Twelve-25, after the WAAY 31 I-TEAM took video inside in Tuscaloosa over the weekend.

Tuscaloosa police confirmed they responded to a call around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday about the bar being overcrowded. Our I-TEAM saw no space in between people and no one wearing masks inside.

The owner of the bar, Jay Jarrett, tells WAAY 31 his staff was in charge of making sure people stayed in their groups and making sure that those groups were separated.

When we told him the I-TEAM was there and saw people had to squeeze by each other to move around, he said it can be difficult to enforce social distancing.

"Our VIP, which is normally reserved, we opened that up and a lot of people were spread out from that standpoint. I can tell you that no matter how much my security and I suggest and recommend our guests spread out, they still have a way of coming together," said Jarrett.

Jarrett says Saturday night, his staff was constantly trying to keep people separated into the groups they came with. WAAY 31 didn't see that happen.

"It's hard to make that distinction if they arrived together or not, but we try our best," said Jarrett.

Jarrett says the bar's capacity is over 500, and right now, they are limited to 50%, which is around 250 people. He says Saturday night, there were about 180 people inside the bar.

We showed him a video of the crowd taken that night, where there was no space between anyone.

"When you come into Twelve-25, the entry door, you came into our small bar area through the entrance of the big bar. What I didn't see in the video was the other side of our venue," said Jarrett.

We then showed him the video we took on the other side of the bar.

"So this is before, and that was on the other side where the DJ was," said WAAY 31's Casey Albritton.

"So that's not our....That's our building...When I say the side, you go the part where the DJ is, you got the VIP area, and to your point, yes, we were below our capacity, but to your point, we also opened up the VIP area over there to spread people out more," said Jarrett.

Jarrett was correct, we did not get video of the VIP area, but it was unclear where that area was, since every part of the bar was opened up.

WAAY 31 was there for about two hours and didn't see social distancing or masking inside the bar that night.

"We are going to be constantly looking to adhere to all the rules and mandates out there. If there's areas of improvements, whereas my security needs to be more on top in making sure people are definitely social distancing, more, then absolutely we will do those things," said Jarrett.

Jarrett says he is requiring people to wear masks before they enter the building.

Bars are closed for the next two weeks under Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox's executive order. But, Twelve-25 can remain open since it's also a restaurant.

Restaurants in Tuscaloosa are allowed to serve alcohol, as long as the customer is sitting at their table.

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