Bracing for further restrictions

From left, Lockport's Homer Harrison, John DeFabbio and Adam Mullen watch a sporting event on TV at The Penalty Box Bar & Grill on Grigg Lewis Way, downtown. 

In Lockport, last week's news that all bars, restaurants and bowling alleys must close indoor areas by 10 p.m. each night hit food and beverage business owners and customers like the latest cold front.

At sports bars like The Penalty Box on Grigg Lewis Way, adjacent to the Cornerstone Arena downtown, manager Kevin Kirchberger said he thinks the worst is yet to come.

“We were closed down in March and ever since we re-opened up in June, we've only been open until 10 o'clock anyways. On Fridays and Saturdays, we've been open to 11 p.m., so we're just going to have to close an hour earlier on those days,” Kirchberger said.  “As far as indoor dining, now that the patio is closed, we're losing a lot of money.”

Kirchberger used simple logic to estimate the amount of business now being lost.

“It's about 50 percent. You can only have 50 percent of the people in here than we had before so do the math,” he said. “Our takeouts are doing good (716-727-0993) because this community has really pulled together to try and help small businesses like ours. The problem is they keep throwing all these new laws, so while we're working even harder to try and keep the state happy with all the restrictions, at the same time, it's not helping business.

“Since the announcement by Gov. Cuomo, our lunch crowd has declined because people are scared that it's here again,” Kirchberger said.

“I'm expecting another shutdown in a couple of more weeks.”

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several new measures, including a requirement that all bars, restaurants and bowling alleys must close indoor areas by 10 p.m. each night and restaurants would be limited to only curbside food pickup after 10 p.m. In addition, the new restrictions will require gyms to be closed by 10 p.m. each evening. Cuomo is also placing a cap of no more than 10 people on small social gatherings at private homes. The new restrictions are slated to take hold on Friday.

Enforcement duties for all of the measures will fall to local governments across the state.

"COVID is getting worse by the day," Cuomo said in a Tweet on Wednesday afternoon. "All around the country. The fall surge is here. We are taking action but we need New Yorkers to do their part. Wear a mask. Get tested. Follow all health guidelines. Take this seriously."

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