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Erie County DOH threatens to shut down bars, restaurants promoting big events

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 18:36:34-04

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — For many local bars and restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns, now is the time to make back money lost and welcome back loyal customers.

“All we’re trying to do here is stay in business and survive like everyone else,” said Armor Inn Tap Room Owner Greg Paolini.

With a large open-air parking lot, the Armor Inn Tap Room thought there would be no issue putting on Bike Night like it has for the past 15 summers. Restaurant management created a Facebook event to invite customers.

“But we did cancel the event prior to it starting because we got a bit of a warning that it could be difficult to control this type of thing,” Paolini said.

But still, Tuesday night, bikes showed up, and soon after so did Erie County Department of Health inspectors.

“We had a special entrance and exit, our tables were spaced out,” he said.

Paolini also said patrons were required to wear masks, and no one could congregate in groups larger than ten. He said for the most part everything was fine and everyone was acting appropriately but there were a few who did not want to comply

He said he had to get on the loud speaker and shut down bike night.

Health Commissioner Gale Burstein had some strong words during a media briefing Wednesday for bars and restaurants who are promoting bands and other gatherings.

“If there’s any restaurant or bar that has an event with a band, no social distancing, not wearing masks, we will send a sanitarian and clear the house out,” she said.

Paolini says with such uncharted territory, he’s trying to make opening up again as normal as possible, but there is a learning curve.

“Our patrons were apologizing to me out the door saying, ‘sorry, I know you guys tried, it’s not your fault.”

Armor Inn did not receive any violations or citations. The restaurant is open for indoor and outdoor seating.