WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Tuscaloosa bar found not following coronavirus guidelines prior to citywide shutdown

Some bars followed the guidelines in place over the weekend, others didn’t and it’s why they’re all closed now. One bar was so crowded, and so few people wearing masks, the WAAY 31 I-Team needed to leave because it didn’t seem safe.

Posted: Aug 24, 2020 10:50 PM
Updated: May 4, 2021 11:18 AM

New information released tonight, the University of Alabama confirms testing revealed 566 cases of Coronavirus across all its campuses since August 19.

Eight are in Huntsville at UAH, but 531 are at the main campus in Tuscaloosa.

Earlier on Monday the university and city leaders decided something had to change because of packed bars, people without masks and no social distancing.

On Monday, the city shut down bars for two weeks!

The WAAY 31 I-Team spent the weekend in Tuscaloosa and learned the reason behind the decision.

Some bars followed the guidelines in place over the weekend, others didn’t and it’s why they’re all closed now. One bar was so crowded, and so few people wearing masks, the WAAY 31 I-Team needed to leave because it didn’t seem safe.

9 p.m.: Typically pretty early for bars to be this packed, but at a bar called Twelve-25 in Tuscaloosa, but let's back up to the start of the journey at the University of Alabama.

At 3:30 p.m., our executive producer and WAAY 31's Casey Albritton arrived on campus. They saw signs everywhere, asking students to social distance and wear masks.

They barely saw any students on the quad or along Greek row, but everyone they did see was wore masks and stayed in groups.

Overall, it seemed safe.

An hour later, they went to Buffalo Phil's.

The restaurant and bar along the Tuscaloosa strip forced customers to wait in line outside and staff made sure they kept their distance.

Once they sat down, staff was always in masks. Customers put theirs on when they left their tables.

Next up, a bar called the Bear trap. It was one of the bars from viral pictures taken the prior weekend. But this week, it looked much different.

It’s the only spot we saw a police officer!

People stayed in groups and security told students to social distance.

The WAAY 31 I-Team left at 7 p.m. and walked by a long line leading into the bear trap.

The bouncer yelled, telling everyone to keep their masks on.

They were so strict with capacity, the WAAY 31 I-Team never got back in.

At 8 p.m., they walked into an already crowded Twelve-25.

When the crowd grew, staff removed tables and chairs to make more space for the bar.

As the night continued, students continued to pile in.

Some students wearing masks, but there was no social distancing.

At 9:17 p.m., there's no spacing, no one wearing face coverings and people kept coming inside.

Another video taken at 9:23 p.m. shows lines of students waiting at the bar four people deep with no masks in sight.

At this point, WAAY 31's I-Team decided to leave because it didn’t seem safe.

Outside was a long line, not seen at any other bar.

The I-Team's last stop was Gallettes, a bar that faced backlash because of these scenes the prior weekend with no social distancing or masks.

This weekend, it seemed the safest.

Signs lined the bar asking people to take precautions and you could see X's on the ground to show people where to stand.

Staff told everyone to leave promptly at 11 p.m. and staff immediately started wiping down tables.

As the I-Team started to leave, they didn't see any Tuscaloosa Police or University of Alabama police officers.

Then along Greek row, it was eerily quiet and empty.

WAAY 31's I-Team spent roughly eight hours on campus and only saw one police officer.

From their perspective, it appeared that enforcement of health orders fell on individual businesses, and some took it more seriously than others.

As of now, bars in Tuscaloosa can reopen September 8. Restaurants can remain open

Governor Kay Ivey released this statement in response to the order saying, "If we do not act expeditiously, it leaves the potential for a situation to get out of hand, which would require even tougher, longer-lasting decisions to be enacted."

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