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.
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.
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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.”
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.
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