RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Packed and partying was the scene at the Rockford in Raleigh Saturday night for a brief time.
No masks or social distancing were visible as a video posted by the restaurant and bar on Instagram encouraged even more people to stop by. It was an upsetting scene to many.
“All of these people that are doing so many things to try and prevent the spread and it takes just a small group of people to cause something to go tragically wrong,” said Andrea Metivier, a Raleigh resident.
The owner says the crowd of nearly 100 came in randomly Saturday night right before closing, as they were one of the only places still open.
He says new and temporary staff members working at the time were overwhelmed and unsure what to do.
However, he says when he learned what was happening he shut the scene down within an hour.
“We had people in place that weren’t equipped to handle it and made bad decisions and we take full responsibility for it, and we’ve made the changes so that it won’t ever happen again,” said Tony Coulter, co-owner of The Rockford.
In an effort to prevent similar situations, Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin enacted an order that prevents restaurants, grocery and convenience stores from serving alcohol after 11 p.m. every night.
“We’ve got to take all precautions that we can to ensure that COVID does not continue to spread at the rate it has,” said Baldwin.
The Hibernian Restaurant and Pub has already started closing at 11 p.m. every night in response to the order. They say it will cause around a 20% loss of revenue, but that it could be worse.
“We really can’t afford to be shut down all the way, so if we lose these two or three hours every night of the week and we can stay open, then I can still pay my employees,” said Carlos Rivers, the area director for Hibernian Hospitality Group.
The order goes into effect on Wednesday and law enforcement will be used to help with enforcing it when needed.
As for the newly hired social media manager at the Rockford who posted the video, the owner says they are helping train her on their values and safety guidelines. The Rockford owner also says they will now close nightly at 11 p.m.
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