JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Over the past three months, the music venue Blue Jay Listening Room in Jacksonville Beach has held virtual concerts. It closed due to COVID-19 restrictions in March, forcing the staff and musicians to ask for donations through a GoFundMe to help keep them afloat.
"We've just been playing it by ear, one foot in front of the other one day at a time kind of thing and it has been really hard for us to kind of navigate all of this because nobody really knows how to navigate it," owner Cara Burky said.
When Governor Ron DeSantis gave bars the ok to reopen two weeks ago, including Blue Jay, Burky held off.
"I wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I wanted to make sure it was clean. I wanted to make sure myself and my staff were all on the same page," she said.
They deep cleaned the venue, all employees were to wear masks and there was going to be Lysol wipes on every table for customers to wipe down the tables if they wanted to. Burky's plans to reopen Monday, however, were nixed after several bars and restaurants in the area closed because customers and some employees tested positive for the virus.
"The second I got on social media, I mean, it was just crazy. Tons of bars and restaurants around me were closing, so I think it would just be irresponsible of me to read that and do nothing about it," Burky said.
She scratched the reopening set for Monday and said she isn't sure when she'll reopen her business. Even though the closure has significantly hurt Blue Jay monetarily, Burky said she is glad she held off reopening. She said closing again and cleaning would've set her back even more.
"I'm very lucky that we only had to close once initially and while this is setting our reopening date back, I'm not having to invest in a ton of money because I know scientifically that no one has entered Blue Jay that has tested positive," Burky said.
"I can control what happens with myself and my staff. I can't control what people are coming into my space and, God bless, a lot of the people who are coming into the places have it and don't even know they have it," she said.
Burky said they'll continue those virtual concerts for the foreseeable future.
"I feel like this is the right call because it's not worth it, to me, no amount of money is worth hurting people. No amount of money is worth the chance of someone coming in and infecting one another, in my opinion," Burky said.
She said the reopening date hasn't been rescheduled and she's taking things one day at a time.