Bars prepare for Halloween amid coronavirus

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WESTLAKE, Ohio (WJW)– It’s a scary time for owners and employees at bars and restaurants, like Panini’s Bar and Grill in Westlake, as they try to plan for Halloween parties in the midst of a surge in cases of COVID-19.

“And hopefully it doesn’t reach that level here, but it draws concern so we take every precaution that we can,” said Nick LaVigna, Panini’s owner.

During his COVID-19 briefing on Thursday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine discouraged Halloween parties and gatherings in Ohio. He did not issue any statewide mandates, leaving that decision to each municipality.

LaVigna, a firefighter-paramedic in Parma, has seen the impact of the coronavirus from the front lines. He said guests attending Panini’s Halloween party on Saturday will be required to mask up.

“You’re going to have to actually wear both. So you’ll have your mask and your Halloween costume, and you’ll also have your protective COVID mask. We’re anticipating a lot of people to be pretty creative with their COVID mask, so it’ll be fun,” he said.

Lavigna said his staff at Panini’s will need to be vigilant on Saturday, policing COVID-19 guidelines for Halloween ghouls, ghosts and goblins, as well as Ohio State football fans, watching the Buckeyes’ key matchup with Penn State.

“It helps, believe it or not, being at half capacity so we’re able to police matters appropriately and not having an overflow of people. So we monitor that just like we do every day,” he said.

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