BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Bar industry protestors continue to show their anger and frustration over an executive order prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m. in hopes of keeping down the spread of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich was given an earful. Protester Lachriseja Elisaga made sure he heard her.
“If you’re adult enough to choose to go to a casino, you should have the right to choose to go to a bar,” she yelled.
The mayor tried to explain the need for the governor’s executive order and urging them to have patience.
“The numbers are going in the right direction,” he told the group. “We’re trying to do what the governor asked us to do to shut this thing down. Nobody’s been hurt more than the city of Biloxi.”
Protestors were not wanting someone to give an explanation. They were wanting someone to hear their plight.
“We don’t want handouts,” Elisaga told Gilich. “We want our jobs.”
Those in the bar industry say the governor’s executive order is killing business because the biggest part of their revenue is late evening and early hours.
“I don’t understand what the difference is having a cocktail at 4 p.m. versus having a cocktail at midnight,” said protester Vanessa Aucion. “I don’t see the difference in that.”
As a result, bar employees are paying a hefty price.
“There’s people here that are barely covering rent right now because we can’t work past 11,” Elisaga said. “I’m giving up hours to my guys so they can make some sort of paycheck.”
Operators said they want a level playing field because casinos are still allowed to serve free alcohol on the gaming floor past 11 p.m.
“There’s no difference between me walking into that casino and getting drunk in front of a slot machine or me deciding to go to a bar,” Elisaga added. “The slot machine is not a magical bubble that protects you from COVID.”
They said the inconsistency goes beyond that.
“Whenever you can go pack out Walmart, Home Depot, the casinos, the gym, schools, everywhere else is fine,” said protester Leighann Lafontaine. “But bars are being categorized like we’re the No. 1 cause of COVID, and it’s not fair.”
Organizers said they may have more protests, especially if the executive order is extended past Aug. 17.