Bustling areas turn into ghost towns and businesses get impacted amid mass-gathering restrictions

Posted at 11:49 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 23:49:39-04

NORFOLK, Va. -- Some of Hampton Road's busiest places were not bust on Saturday night, now that mass gathering bans are in full effect to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

One such place was Monticello Avenue in Downtown Norfolk where crowds of people and a busy street were replaced with light traffic, available parking spots, and minimal people.

"Sometimes at night it's peaceful down here during the week, but I've never seen it like this -- quiet," Jordyn Crocker, a Downtown Norfolk resident, said.

Crocker and her husband walked down the street for a stroll. She said it was abnormal for Monticello Avenue to be in the state it was in.

"We have mixed feelings, there's a lot of people that are hurting from the business," Crocker said. "It's also nice to see people that are taking it serious."

The streets were quiet, but the one thing that broke the silence was the smooth jazz coming out of Gershwin's bar and restaurant. Amid the mass-gathering ban, Gershwin's was one of the few businesses open.

"I wouldn't say it's scary, but it's kind of like, wow, that this can happen so quickly," Claude Barnett, the owner of Gershwin's, said.

He said his bar and restaurant would be filled with people on a typical Saturday night, but there were less than 10 this night. He said he is obeying the ban by not exceding that number of customers.

"I think we had to turn away one pair because we were already at nine. I don't want to get in trouble," Barnett said. "I was like, give us your number, we'll call you when somebody leaves."

The restaurant has two levels -- the bar on the first level with dining tables on both levels. He said the restaurant is spaced out that there is enough room for people to social-distance themselves.
Gershwin's also had to adapt to the changes. It is now offering curbside pick up and delivery to a limited range. They join a list of other companies that now offer these options in response to the restrictions.