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Coronavirus shuts down Crowbar, the Orpheum and Skipper’s Smokehouse

COVID-19 closes three of Tampa Bay's live music venues. Meanwhile in Ybor City, many violate Tampa's mask order.
Crowbar owner Tom DeGeorge said he had to cancel plans to reopen Saturday when he learned that an employees was in contact with someone who tested positive. Now he and his entire staff are getting tested. The Orpheum and Skipper's Smokehouse also closed because of the coronavirus.
Crowbar owner Tom DeGeorge said he had to cancel plans to reopen Saturday when he learned that an employees was in contact with someone who tested positive. Now he and his entire staff are getting tested. The Orpheum and Skipper's Smokehouse also closed because of the coronavirus. [ DIVYA KUMAR | Times ]
Published Jun. 21, 2020|Updated Jun. 21, 2020

The coronavirus is crippling Tampa Bay’s live-music scene.

The owners of the Orpheum in Ybor City and Skipper’s Smokehouse in North Tampa all announced on Instagram Saturday that employees testing positive for the coronavirus — or fears that staffers had been exposed to the virus — forced them to temporarily shut down their venues.

That’s also why Crowbar announced it cancelled Saturday’s grand re-opening in Ybor City.

The news comes after St. Petersburg’s Jannus Live announced Tuesday that it temporarily shuttered three of its businesses around the outdoor concert venue — the Pelican Pub, the Landing and Detroit Liquors — after an employee member tested positive for COVID-19. That also meant postponing Friday night’s Pirate Flag concert.

The owners of Crowbar, the Orpheum and Skipper’s used social media to tell their fans to stay away until further notice.

Meanwhile in Ybor City, hundreds walked around Saturday night without masks.

Nor did they wear them in bars, clubs and restaurants — potentially violating Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s order requiring residents who leave their homes to wear masks indoors if they cannot stay 6-feet apart. The measure took effect Friday.

On the other side of the bay, while protesters marched through downtown St. Petersburg, more patrons wore masks and sat outside.

The latest local closings comes on the heels of the state’s highest single-day report of positive tests, at 4,049 — and the average age of those being diagnosed is getting younger.

Related: Florida logs another 4,000-plus day as state approaches 94,000 coronavirus infections

The Orpheum’s owner said it closed because two employees tested positive for COVID-19. They last worked on June 13 and were asymptomatic. The entire staff was getting tested but there was no timeline yet for re-opening.

“We believe we are doing the right thing in the interest of public health at this time,” the owners of the Orpheum said on Instagram.

The Orpheum’s owner said it closed Saturday because two employees tested positive for COVID-19. They last worked on June 13 and were asymptomatic. The entire staff was getting tested but there was no timeline yet for re-opening. The coronavirus also closed Skipper's Smokehouse and halted Crowbar's plans to reopen.
The Orpheum’s owner said it closed Saturday because two employees tested positive for COVID-19. They last worked on June 13 and were asymptomatic. The entire staff was getting tested but there was no timeline yet for re-opening. The coronavirus also closed Skipper's Smokehouse and halted Crowbar's plans to reopen. [ DIVYA KUMAR | Times ]
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Crowbar owner Tom DeGeorge said he had hoped to be able to reopen Saturday after being closed since March. But when he learned that an employees was in contact with someone who tested positive, he said he called off the “Road to Reopen” event and told his entire staff to go get tested.

“We’re going to wait until we see these numbers going in a downward trend and then we’ll reopen,” DeGeorge said.

He lamented that, while in the waiting room to take his own test Saturday, he saw a video of a metal concert where the audience was in the mosh pit not practicing any social distancing.

He said it’s difficult for a responsible business to get back on track, “when others are just doing whatever they want.”

Skipper’s owners said on Instagram that they learned through contract tracing that a staffer may have been exposed to someone who tested positive. They’ve also been watching the coronavirus’ trends, and decided that closing was the most socially responsible thing to do.

“A monetary amount, good times, delicious meals and tasty cocktails will never be more valuable than your life to us,” they wrote. “Therefore, we are erring on the side of extreme safety in this case.”

View this post on Instagram

ATTENTION FOLKS: The Orpheum will be closed tonight. We have learned that two of our employees tested positive for CoVid-19. The last time they worked was Saturday June 13th and neither had symptoms associated with the virus. While closing is not required or mandatory we thought it best to look out for our employee's and customer's safety and well being by shutting down temporarily. We have instructed our entire staff to get tested immediately. We believe we are doing the right thing in the interest of public health at this time. We will re-open when we are able to test all of our employees, not just those who have experienced symptoms of the Coronavirus. Thanks and everyone stay safe. The Orpheum

A post shared by ⓣⓗⓔ ⓞⓡⓟⓗⓔⓤⓜ (@tampaorpheum) on

View this post on Instagram

Urgent Update : : : Effective today and for the unforeseeable future, we are CLOSED. We will continue to post updates to social media as a reopen date becomes available. Why are we closing? : : : This morning, the Skipper's Smokehouse ownership and management have been notified that one of our employees was alerted through contact tracing that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 - this in addition to our carefully watching the numbers of positive cases and trends rise dramatically over the course of the past several days, we feel closing immediately is the most socially responsible thing for us to do to keep not only our staff but our patrons as safe as we possibly can. At this time, NONE of our staff have tested positive for COVID-19 - but, the contact trace alert is concerning to us. : : : What you can expect before we reopen? It will be required that ALL employees that work on site be tested for COVID-19 and be symptom free before returning to work. In addition to that, we will be performing extra deep cleaning processes during the closure and upon reopening. : : : We have worried this day would arrive for us and it has. There comes a time when being socially responsible and putting health, well being and safety above business as almost usual is the absolute right thing to do. A monetary amount, good times, delicious meals and tasty cocktails will never be more valuable than your life to us. Therefore, we are erring on the side of extreme safety in this case. : : : We are here to answer any questions or concerns our patrons might have - again, NO ONE has tested positive on our staff. If you have questions or concerns, you can contact us at cricket@skipperssmokehouse.com : : : We love you all so much. We appreciate just shy of four decades of your support. Now, we ask that those who disagree with this decision respect our choice to be socially responsible. Peace, Love, Good Health & Oysters

A post shared by 𝐒𝐤𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐒𝐦𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 (@skipperssmokehouse) on

Other bay area businesses, such as Rollin’ Oats Market and Cafe and Noble Crust in St. Petersburg, have temporarily shut their doors, as well, after employees tested positive for the virus.

Before Castor dropped her mask order in Tampa, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman ordered that employees of all city businesses must wear masks.

In his Instagram post, Crowbar’s owner said:

“I am extremely disappointed, but I’d be much more disappointed with myself if I were to try and go forward in light of this new information,” he wrote. “Be safe out there, folks.”

Times staff writers Divya Kumar and Josh Fiallo contributed to this report.

Related: Coronavirus case closes three bars around Jannus Live

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