The owner of Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N' Roll Steakhouse in Nashville said he is refusing to follow Mayor John Cooper's plan to shut down all bars in the city's tourist hot-spot Lower Broadway during the coronavirus pandemic. After a video of a packed bar went viral overnight, the Metro Board of Health approved a plan to shut down all bars in Davidson County, including the honky-tonks in downtown Nashville. The Tennessee Department of Health reported 39 cases of coronavirus in the state, with 17 in Davidson County alone.
After Cooper announced his plans, Steve Smith, who owns the bar with Kid Rock's name on it, as well as The Diner and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, said he will not follow the rule until a statewide mandate is issued. Smith called the decision "unconstitutional."
"Unless there's a statewide mandate that directs all bars and restaurants to be closed, the request made by Mayor Cooper is unconstitutional as he is targeting a select group of businesses," Smith said in a statement. "We are compassionate with those who have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus and all who are helping manage the crisis as the entire world addresses the outbreak. However, a Tootsie's patron as immediate as last night, mentioned having lived through the polio epidemic and didn't recall such extreme measures being handed down in history."
JUST IN: Several bars on Lower Broadway, including popular Tootsies, Honky Tonk Central, Kid Rock’s bar, will remain OPEN after Nashville mayor asked them to close over #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/LfGJ1ZfzoU— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) March 15, 2020
Cooper's plan did not just target bars though. He also set new limits on restaurant capacity, limiting seating to less than 50 percent capacity and limiting total occupancy to 100 people. Bar service at restaurants were also limited to 50 percent capacity with no standing allowed. The Metro Board of Health had an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon to approve the plan, reports The Tennessean.
The decision to close the bars and set limits for restaurants came after a Twitter user shared a video showing a packed bar in Lower Broadway Saturday night, even as people had already been advised to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus. The video quickly went viral, with over 3 million views. It was not a good look for the city, with even celebrities calling out the bars for letting so many customers pack into close quarters.
"While the rest of us are trying to be responsible in our homes and get this s— over with, THIS?!" country singer Maren Morris wrote on Twitter. "Broadway, you aren't a hero for staying open."
There are more than 3,400 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., and 63 recorded deaths. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, allowing states and territories access to more funds to limit the spread of the virus.
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