Nashville bars to be shut down, restaurants limited to 100 guests

Nashville Mayor John Cooper is planning to shut down Nashville bars to help stem the spread of  the coronavirus, but restaurants will be able to remain open in a restricted capacity.

Under Cooper’s order, establishments where food makes up less than half of revenues, must close their doors. Restaurants are limited to seating half of their capacity, or up to 100 guests. Bar service at such restaurants is also limited to 50 percent of capacity and no standing is allowed.

State law includes a provision for “limited service restaurants” for the purpose of applying for a liquor-by-the-drink license. They are defined as deriving less than 50% of gross revenue from the sales of food (excluding “prepared food, chips, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and other similar snack items.”)

So what makes a bar that derives, say, 40% of its revenue from food more prone to spreading the virus than one that brings in 55% from dining service? It’s unclear. But videos like these have caused a widespread backlash against people crowding into downtown Nashville clubs amid the pandemic:

See the full release from the mayor’s office after the jump:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Mayor John Cooper released the following statement regarding today’s emergency meeting of the Metro Board of Health scheduled for 5:00 PM:

“At my request, the Metro Nashville Board of Health will hold a special emergency meeting today at 5 p.m. to take action on a declaration of a public health emergency to address COVID-19. The Metro Public Health Department possesses the authority to take extraordinary actions to protect public health. The department and Coronavirus Task Force will communicate specific policy requirements that mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19.

“In advance of that meeting, I am asking for specific, short-term action to be taken effective immediately:

  1. Bars on Lower Broadway and throughout Davidson County to close their businesses until further notice;
  2. Restaurants (public facilities where the sale of food comprises more than 50 percent of revenue) to limit their regular maximum seating to under 50 percent of capacity, capped at no more than 100 individuals allowed.
  3. Bar service at restaurants should be limited to 50 percent of capacity with no standing allowed.

“We also are asking restaurants to take social distancing precautions, including the spacing out of tables for customers. We are encouraging restaurants to remain open as both a measure of social wellbeing and because of their important role in helping to feed our community. We appreciate the businesses, churches, schools, sporting event organizers, and all other organizations that have closed or taken actions on social distancing. These actions are consistent with other best practices being rolled out in Chicago, Washington, DC, New Orleans, and other major cities nationwide. Nashville is a leading destination in both global tourism and healthcare, and it is our responsibility to set an example in keeping our community safe.

“We are asking for these short-term actions based on recommendations of public health officials and health professionals and to protect the health of every person in our county and every visitor to our city. As a community we must come together and take care of one another, and that includes practicing social distancing that inhibits the spread of the virus. If we take these steps in the short-term, we will be able to return more quickly to normal operations.

“We understand these changes create a hardship, especially for businesses and their employees, and we hope it will be short lived. As a priority, Metro Government will be focused on how to provide relief for local workers and address the inevitable hardship that these social distancing measures will have on local businesses. We are gathering information from state and federal officials on aid for businesses and workers. We will continue to communicate regularly and follow the recommendations of the Board of Health as this emergency evolves.”


9 Responses to Nashville bars to be shut down, restaurants limited to 100 guests

  • Avatar
    Robert says:

    Yes, It is important to take steps to protect the health of people in Nashville Davidson county and across the state in the country however when you close businesses down and people are unable to make money in order to pay their bills including what might be hospital bills it becomes a very difficult burden. Also there is a point to which people should have the right to make personal choices. It seems to me that the mayors actions are a way to show political power more so then think about the over arching effects Of how it can hurt people just as bad when they can’t make any money because their place of work has been closed down. For the most part restaurants and bars have not been at half capacity in recent days. Think about what would happen if you work at such an establishment and it is closed or your services are needed for a period of time you have three children and you can’t afford to pay your bills or anything else you have to look at the big big picture. A further note… Why just bars and restaurants why not close down movie theaters bowling alleys any kind of place for recreation. What about contamination buy food cooked and delivered by one of the many services that does such. Why not just close down the whole city. . It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction or some sort of interest in exploiting political power.

  • Avatar
    James White says:
  • Avatar
    Christina Norris says:

    Here is well-regarded summary of current findings about COVID-19 infection rates
    and best strategies.

  • Avatar
    Christina Norris says:

    Take a look at the chart comparing flu vs. COVID-19 death rates:

  • Avatar
    MARLE says:

    Charts and grafts that have actual deaths but not actual infections create a Death Rate that means nothing. And it’s worth than nothing because it is used to make false claim, assumptions. Past flu strains always showed extremely elevated Death Rates at first, before the complete data was gathered.

    So to compare the “Death rate” of corona at this stage of its introduction to the world with the Death Rate of past flu seasons decades in the making is Bogus. Just stop.

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    David Collins says:

    While I believe his intentions are good, I don’t think he has the authority to unilaterally order the closing of all bars or establishments that derive less than half of their revenue from food sales. I know that such authority is not included in the Metro Charter and I doubt there exists any state stature conferring such authority on the Mayor. I would brace for a multitude of lawsuits if I were him. How does he propose to enforce this edict? Have the owners arrested? Arrested for what exactly when there is no statutory basis for his actions.

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      Jerry says:

      The Mayor didn’t order the bars closed. The Health Department did after declaring a Public Health Emergency. They have every right to do so.

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    Don’t let the state use a virus to deny property rights. When you trade Liberty for false security you loose freedom.

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