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Bar owners protest Gov. Cooper's Phase 3 reopening

Only bars with outdoor space can reopen, but at 30 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte bar owners gathered outside the federal courthouse Thursday afternoon to protest Governor Roy Cooper's Phase 3 reopening order.

About one to two dozen people from bars throughout Mecklenburg County held hand-made signs demanding Gov. Cooper allow them to reopen.

According to Phase 3 guidelines, only bars with outdoor space are allowed to reopen, but at 30 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.

Michaele Laria co-owns Jeff's Bucket Shop, and she hoped the protest will send a strong message to Gov. Cooper.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper: North Carolina to enter Phase 3 on Friday

"We want to be treated fairly," Laria said. "We submitted health and safety guidelines to Governor Cooper, and we can do it better than what the restaurant/bars, the country clubs, the breweries, the wineries, the adult entertainment places, the casino, everywhere that can sell the same alcohol that we have and pay the same amount for a liquor license that we can't use."

Jackie DeLoach planned to reopen Hattie's Tap and Tavern off The Plaza this Saturday.

"It was bittersweet," DeLoach said of the governor's announcement. "It was nice to hear we have the opportunity to, but it's also hard to hear that some people can't."

She can typically seat 60 people outside, but she'll only allow 20 customers at the bar with her six employees making sure everyone abides by the rules.

"We're going to try to follow the guidelines as best we possibly can," DeLoach said. "If it gets out of hand, I'm going to shut the doors."

Phase 3 takes effect Friday at 5 pm, and an 11 pm alcohol curfew will remain in effect.