Though a Category 4 storm is barreling toward Palm Beach County, some Delray Beach bars Wednesday were poised to stay open as Hurricane Matthew passes. But the Delray Beach Police Department threw a wrench in those plans.
It announced on Twitter that a mandatory curfew is going into effect from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. The post specifically notes that alcohol sales are suspended during that time too.
"Wotta load of bollocks!" commented Lee Harrison, owner of the Blue Anchor, on Facebook two hours after he announced that his pub would remain open through the storm. "I guess Blue Anchor will be forced to close at that time, too! So let's party all afternoon...for at 6 'o clock it all must finish!"
Delray Beach has issued a mandatory curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday. Alcohol sales will be suspended during the curfew.— Delray Beach Police (@DelrayBeachPD) October 5, 2016
Wednesday night, Atlantic Avenue was a ghost town. Hardly any cars were on the road, and only a small trickle of pedestrians were on the sidewalks. Police were already posted outside the Blue Anchor pub. They weren't enforcing the curfew but cordoning off the bridge that led to the barrier islands, which are under a mandatory evacuation.
Inside Blue Anchor, a bartender confirmed the bar would be open today but said it'd be shutting down at 6 p.m. for the curfew. More than a dozen people drank and discussed the storm inside.
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They understood the need to close down their town. Many recounted stories. There was Hurricane Sandy, which sent 20-foot waves crashing onshore in 2012. And how about the power outage that lasted more than a week during Hurricane Wilma in 2005?
"They should absolutely have a curfew," said Vanessa Bouleware, who has been living in Delray Beach for the past 12 years. "There's no reason anyone should be out in the middle of a hurricane. It's about public safety."
A man in a baseball cap from Boynton Beach who declined to give his name mirrored that sentiment: "Maybe people will risk their safety to have a drink... If a person wants to drink, they'll button up and come out."
His friend, who also declined to give his name, pointed out that making employees work during the storm was dangerous. "I disagree with vertical staff," he said. "I'm not comfortable having people work [during a hurricane] for my comfort."