COLUMBIA - Willie's Bar and The Blue Note are two local businesses opening back up this weekend as COVID-19 case numbers continue to decrease in Boone County. 

Boone County saw the lowest number of active cases since July 31 just under two weeks ago on Feb. 15. The health department reported 33 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. In the last 24 hours, the county also reported 29 hospitalizations, one of the lowest numbers since the start of the pandemic. 

The re-openings come two weeks after the City of Columbia's modified health order, which allows bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to stay open until midnight, rather than 10:30 p.m. The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services spokesperson explained how the health order is a factor for many businesses re-opening. 

"We think that was a good modification to make under the new health order because it lets local businesses more flexibility to serve their customers," Humm said. "We're looking out for the safety and well being of the community but we also want to make sure we support our local businesses." 

Willie's announced on its Instagram on Monday the bar is re-opening on Thursday with safety and health measures in place. The business is using the app, Line Leap Tickets, for people to make reservations in advance. 

"This app offers us the ability to make table reservations in 2 to 3 hour time slots," the Instagram post said. "This will allow us to provide a great experience that limits large gatherings of customers awaiting entry." 

The Blue Note is another entertainment venue re-opening this weekend with declining COVID-19 cases in Boone County. The music venue is re-starting it's concert series on Friday. 

To ensure social distancing, The Blue Note is operating at a limited capacity and requires mask wearing at all times. Willie's & Fieldhouse bar are operating under similar guidelines. Humm explained in order to re-open, the businesses had to submit a plan to the City of Columbia. 

"We want our businesses to re-open but we want to do so safely to protect our community," Humm said. "Businesses will go through an approval process so we can ensure they're operating safely."

With nearly 14% of Boone County vaccinated against COVID-19 and positive case numbers remaining low, Humm explained that while we may slowly be getting to the end of the pandemic, taking health and safety precautions are still important. 

"It's really encouraging because we're seeing this combination of lower COVID-19 numbers that are staying low and more folks in our community getting vaccinated," Humm said. "It does feel a little like the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still want to emphasize we are not out of this pandemic yet." 

KOMU 8 has the latest COVID-19 numbers and vaccination information for mid-Missouri. 

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