Q: I heard a rumor that all or almost all of the bars in Aggieville open on Sunday night voluntarily closed by midnight. Not because of any county or state ordinance, but because they didn’t have enough healthy people to staff them. Is this true?

A: The bars closed early, but Aggieville Business Association director Dennis Cook said it happened because of a lack of patrons. Cook said the district is experiencing its typical summer lull, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Starting about the last week of June into the first week of August, this is the worst time of the year for these businesses,” he said.

“A lot of these businesses are finding out they should shut down way early because it’s not worth keeping open.”

As the cases have spiked locally, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on June 24 identified Aggieville as an outbreak area. An outbreak is defined as five or more cases stemming from one place and time.

The Riley County Health Department identified Rock-a-Belly Deli and 7even 8ight 5ive in Aggieville as smaller outbreaks within the Aggieville outbreak.

The outbreak led to some businesses temporarily closing, the health department placing additional restrictions on bars and restaurants and Fort Riley barring soldiers from visiting Aggieville.

Cook said half of the district’s 18 bars are closed, and others are operating less often and shutting down early.

“Some of them have been closed for quite a while. Some of them never reopened since March,” he said.

Currently, Riley County health regulations allow bars to stay open until 2 a.m. with occupancy limited to 75%. County health officials are considering what the next regulations will be.

Cook said he sent an email Monday morning to the health department, updating them on what is currently happening.

“My point would be No. 1, we’re really self restricting ourselves,” he said. “I’m asking them not to put any additional restrictions. It would be pointless because there isn’t much business.”

Cook said Aggieville also hopes to install free-standing hand sanitizer stations in four different areas in the district this week.

“I’m asking them to take that into consideration before making any more decisions on our district,” he said.

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