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Wine bar closed after large group refused to follow COVID-19 protocols

Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 17:19:10-04

CINCINNATI — Oakley Wine Bar abruptly decided to close down on Sunday after a group of customers refused to follow COVID-19 protocols and threatened staff Saturday night. Owner Stephanie Webster said the business closed for extra cleaning and to give her staff time to decompress after the incident.

Webster posted about the incident to the business' Facebook page, explaining her decision to close and begging patrons to respect and understand COVID-19 protocols restaurants and bars have to follow to remain open.

"It was definitely a stressful and traumatic event for the bartender, who had to ask them to leave," she said. "It goes against what we love doing. We welcome people."

Webster said the group grew to 11 people, larger than COVID-19 restrictions allow, and that the people in the group refused to wear masks while not at their table and threatened to spit on things and destroy property in the bar when confronted by staff.

"We eventually, after a couple hours after repeated reminders, had to ask them to leave, which at that point, I think they accidentally broke a glass, but then laughed at it," said Webster.

Security cameras at the business showed the group ultimately did not destroy any property and didn't return after they were asked to leave, but Webster said the hostility and constant rule-breaking was tough on her staff.

Her Facebook post urged patrons to understand that following the COVID-19 protocols in place for bars and restaurants is necessary for businesses to remain open, and repercussions are dire for businesses just fighting to stay open.

"If the liquor board came in or the health department came in and we were not following the guidelines, we could lose our liquor license," said Webster. "And that's our whole business, that's our livelihood."

The bar will reopen for regular hours on Tuesday.