COVID-19 closures take toll on NKY bars, restaurants

Posted at 11:28 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 23:39:06-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

COVINGTON, Ky. — On Monday, the governors of Kentucky and Indiana ordered all bars and restaurants to halt dine-in services and switch to carry-out or delivery in the wake of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day and during a season typically packed with spring sports, that order hurts at Molly Malone’s in Covington.

The Irish pub that’s usually gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day festivities at this time of year had its doors closed for the foreseeable future on Monday. In business since 1888, it’s a staple for locals and a source of steady income for its employees. Now, it’s empty.

Owner Paul Shanley, who sunk thousands of dollars and months of time planning a St. Patrick’s Day party that’s now postponed, called the closure a “disappointment” even if he saw it coming.

"Timing couldn't be worse,” Shanley said. “St. Patrick's is by far our biggest day. It's huge around here."

And across the street at Smoke Justis, workers like Alex Majied worry about making ends meet without steady work.

"I'm in a weird limbo where I'm not sure whether I'll be able to,” said Majied said.

Majied started working as a cook a month ago, and this job was his only source of income.

"In regards to like bills and stuff, I'm probably going to talk to the people that I need to pay money to and be like 'Hi, I'm kind of in a pinch,’” he said.

A pinch Shanley hopes will soon pass.

"We'll come out of it,” he said. “There's been worse things that have gone on before. There's been world wars, all sort of stuff, so we'll come out of this."

Ohio has created a buyback program for bars and restaurants that spent money preparing for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not clear yet if that will also be an option in Ohio and Kentucky.

For a list of area restaurants offering carry-out or delivery amid the dine-in closures, click here. If you want to see your restaurant or business added to our list, email details to

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms, but it can be spread even at asymptomatic stages.