Coronavirus pandemic causes deserted downtowns on what is usually bustling day for bars

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — St. Patrick’s Day is usually a major moneymaker for bars. But Tuesday night, amidst the continued COVID-19 crisis, many bartenders and servers weren’t working, and revelers weren’t out either.

The owner of Sawyer’s and Bourbon Street, and several other bars, Ron Kamionka, said in a normal year the extended St. Paddy’s Day holiday rakes in more than $350,000, which is now money he isn’t going to make.

Few cars, empty streets and bars, even a business owner taking down signs advertising a big Irish heritage bash — all sights we found along a usually bustling Second Street and Restaurant Row.

“The government should not be controlling whether we go into a restaurant or a bar…I’m an adult!” said Danielle Leist, of Grantville.

Leist and friend, Rachel Shertzer, were the only Saint Paddy’s Day partiers we could find, who were also willing to own up to showing up during a statewide shutdown.

“We’re adults and we should be able to choose what we wanna do and go out when we wanna go out,” said Shertzer, of Dauphin Borough. “I think it’s all crazy, there’s a shortage of how many products for no reason.”

They’re not worried about COVID-19 and believe the statewide shutdown is causing real people real problems — real fast.

“The bars are losing out, there are a ton of people who are losing jobs, losing their money,” Leist said.

Signs everywhere showed a majority of business owners are listening to Governor Tom Wolf’s request for all nonessential businesses to shut down, and so are partiers. Leist and Shertzer admit they’ve taken precautions at home, and say it all comes down to self-awareness.

“Pay attention: don’t go around people that have health issues, don’t go into somewhere that you’re gonna possibly spread it even more or catch it and then continue to spread it,” Shertzer said.

One bar owner who did close his doors said he was not happy that a few bars stayed open, believing they should have all acted as a team and listened to Wolf’s request.

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