Omaha Attorney Retained By Bar Owners Anxious to Reopen

May 21, 2020 - 1:50pm

A group of Omaha bar owners has retained a well-known attorney to help them in their efforts to reopen their businesses. Under the current directed health measures, Nebraska bars can’t reopen, but restaurants can. And starting next Thursday, Iowa bars will be able to reopen at reduced capacity. Attorney James Martin Davis says Nebraska bars are getting a raw deal.

“The Governor is sending a signal that the bars in Nebraska are dirty and unhealthy, but if you go over to Iowa, they’re much cleaner and healthier,” Davis said. “How can it be that that river spells a difference between opening over there and not over here?”    

Davis is representing four people who own seven bars in the Omaha area. He’s told them to abide by the DHM’s until May 31st, but wants them to be allowed to reopen after that. He doesn’t think the state can enforce the rule that bars have to stay closed.

“A public health agency is an executive agency. They can’t pass a law and then enforce it,” Davis said. “Only the legislature or a city council can pass criminal law and in this instance, the legislature has passed no such law.”       

Governor Pete Ricketts has acknowledged the hardship for bars, but says it’s difficult to socially distance in a bar environment. Davis says most bars are just like restaurants and that many bar owners say they can’t afford to stay closed much longer.   

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