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Bars that tried to defy governors' orders to shut down for coronavirus were met with anger



So, late into Monday night, drinks were served and the jukebox was booming. Located in Clinton, a town of about 7,000 in central Illinois, Snappers was open for business — but not for long.

Angry comments poured in on the bar’s since-deleted Facebook post from those alarmed by a defiant owner, who said he’d still be open even if he got arrested and had to bail out. “I’ll run this place on my own if I have to,” Sartie told the Daily Beast on Tuesday.

Eventually, the criticism became too much. By Tuesday evening, Snappers said it would follow the governor’s orders and be open for take-out-only. In a post on the bar’s Facebook page, Sartie’s 19-year-old daughter said she understood “where he went wrong,” but pleaded that the hateful comments directed at her father come to an end. (Sartie did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.)

“I see both sides of the issue, I truly do,” Jenna Sartie wrote. “I also wish you others would see the side of the issue where it’s sad to tell your employees that they have no income, that you have no income, and amongst other things.”

More than a dozen states and the District have ordered bars and restaurants to close because of the covid-19 pandemic. There were scattered reports of resistance and in some cases, law enforcement has had to step in.

In Cincinnati, police showed up at the Queen City Lounge on Monday night to find 40 people inside with some eating from a full buffet, according to WLWT. The bar had already received a warning on Sunday night, but put up a sign on the door that said “members only” in an apparent attempt to skirt the law, police said. That plan failed.

So there would be no mistake that the bar was closed, police and a handyman boarded up the door with plywood on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate, WLWT reported. “I understand that people want to get out. But we’re just like everybody else. We’re staying at home and abiding by what the governor put out.”

Elsewhere, it didn’t help that Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day. At the Rainbow Cafe in Pendleton, Ore., Irish coffees and green beers were served all around as jigs blared through the speakers, the East Oregonian reported Tuesday. Then the state liquor commission got word and gave the bar a call.

The owner, Joanne McGee, returned to customers teary-eyed after hanging up, the East Oregonian reported.

“They’re going to have to come and physically shut me down,” she said.

By 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, everyone in the bar was gone. The Oregon State Police said they would be coming to shut it down by 5, the paper reported.

The owner of the Wok About Grill in Washington state also said he would defy the order of Gov. Jay Inslee (D) before changing his mind.

“I will not comply,” Wok About Grill owner Shon Smith wrote on the business’s since-deleted Facebook page, according to KREM. “Families are at risk. Help will not come fast enough to keep the wolves at bay.”

As in the case of Snappers Bar & Grill, the backlash and threats piled up. Wok About Grill got a phone call from the sheriff. And by Monday afternoon, the owner reversed course. Because of the threats, he told the Wenatchee World that his concerns had shifted to his employees’ safety, which he said “is more important than the almighty dollar.”

“We really appreciate that he decided to do the right thing,” Chelan-Douglas Health District Administrator Barry Kling told the newspaper.

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