NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metropolitan Board of Health of Nashville and Davidson County declared a public health emergency while approving the request of Mayor John Cooper to close all bars along Broadway and throughout the county.
The board agreed to close bars and limit restaurant capacity in Music City to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
“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, the mayor asked for specific, short-term action to be taken effective immediately:
- Bars on Lower Broadway and throughout Davidson County to close their businesses until further notice;
- 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.
- 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.
Steve Smith, who owns several major honky tonks, said he would keep his businesses open unless ordered shut by the governor.
Most patients with COVID-19 have a mild respiratory illness including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Tennessee Department of Health strongly encourages Tennesseans to wash your hands often with soap and water and to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
The Health Department asks the community to consider carefully the implications of holding meetings or events involving large numbers of people, especially if the group is likely to include high-risk individuals. All medically fragile citizens should avoid crowds and take other actions to protect their health.
High-risk individuals are defined as adults over 60 years old or people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions such as: Heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.
The Tennessee Department of Health offers a COVID-19 Public Information Line at 877-857-2945, with information available daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time.
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