BY KATHLEEN BOLUS
Steve Masterson doesn’t know if there will be any live concerts for the rest of 2020.
The owner of the live music venue Stage West in Scranton, Masterson said he’s cautious about booking acts for the fall.
“We’re kind of at the mercy of the regulations and our industry seems to be the most affected as far as crowds,” he said.
Pennsylvania is under a stay-at-home order until May 8 to stop the spread of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Entertainment-based businesses are nonessential under the order and, unless they sell food, they’re closed.
Businesses that thrive on large crowds hanging out at bars, watching live music or catching a ballgame are waiting to hear about any new regulations to reopen while proactively preparing for a return to business.
Minor league baseball at PNC Field in Moosic is on hold with no start date because of the pandemic. The RailRiders play in a league with teams from multiple states and the entire league must be ready to play before baseball resumes.
Jimmy Harrison, owner of Jack’s Draft House in Scranton, is skeptical about reopening. He has safety concerns that haven’t been addressed by the state.
He’s worried the bar/restaurant might only be allowed to operate at 50% capacity and that his employees will have to wear masks and gloves.
What does social distancing look like in a kitchen where cooks often work closely to each other, he said.
“The idea is to fill the place up to survive,” Harrison said. “We’re operating on the slimmest of margins to begin with and now to be told you have to do it with restrictions, it makes it that much more challenging.”
Rob Friedman, who’s owned River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Twp. for 26 years, is not optimistic the club will reopen anytime soon. He said the nature of the venue would make it difficult to comply with even relaxed social distancing requirements.
“The excitement is getting all the people there, getting into the music and just enjoying the music,” said Friedman. “You can’t social space/distance in a … live music club.”
JEFF HORVATH, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest