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Restriction on alcohol sales closes down bars in downtown SLO on normally busy St. Patrick’s Day

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Sean Carroll wasn't so lucky on St. Patrick's Day.

The Cal Poly student made a trip to Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, where he was hoping to celebrate the normally festive holiday.

"I'm trying to grab a Guinness," said Carroll, who recently turned 21-years-old. "I'm trying to grab a beer."

As Carroll peeked into the window of Mother's Tavern, he was unaware San Luis Obispo County had ordered a temporary ban of the on-site sale of alcohol at places like bars and restaurants.

"It was finals week," said Carroll. "I had my head in the books."

The ban on alcohol sales went into effect at 5 p.m. Monday night.

At places like Mother's Tavern, Frog and Peach Pub, The Library, Buffalo Puband Grill and McCarthy's, visitors were greeted with black and white signs taped to storefronts explaining the current restriction.

"The intent of the closure on St. Patrick's Day was to reduce the number of crowding that we would have throughout the day, particularly in the morning and the eventing that we traditionally see throughout the county," said County Administrative Officer Wade Horton. "We see that businesses are complying, which we appreciate."

St. Patrick's Day is annually one of the busiest days of the year for places like bars, pubs and breweries that occupy many downtown spaces.

"I knew something was up when I came down here. There was no one in the street," said Carroll. "I thought it was kind of odd because I knew just a couple of days ago, we were talkiing about how packed it was going to be, but coming down here, it was a little sad."

With the ban in effect all day long, normally packed sidewalks were strangely empty and quiet throughout the day.

A manager at one restaurant said only customer had walked through the doors by 1 p.m.

"I think it really gives some perspective on the impact that the virus is having on local economy," said Carroll. "In SLO, you think that we're pretty sheltered from everything, but it's hurting us here too."

The restriction of alcohol sales will end Wednesday at 12:01 p.m.

California / Coronavirus / Economy / Holidays / San Luis Obispo County / Traffic

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.