Country music star Maren Morris lashed out at downtown Nashville bars for staying open during the coronavirus pandemic after a video of a packed Lower Broadway bar went viral overnight. Hours after the video was published, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced all bars in Davidson County will be closed and restaurant searing capacity will be limited. The decision came after the Tennessee Department of Health reported 39 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 17 in Davidson County.
Just after midnight Saturday, a Twitter user shared a brief video of a packed bar in Downtown Nashville, with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder and a band performing. The video went viral, racking up more than 3 million views, as many Twitter users were shocked by it. People have been warned to keep their distance from strangers during the pandemic, but the people in the video were ignoring that.
"While the rest of us are trying to be responsible in our homes and get this s— over with, THIS?!" Morris, who lives in Nashville, tweeted in response to the clip. "Broadway, you aren't a hero for staying open."
While the rest of us are trying to be responsible in our homes and get this shit over with, THIS?! Broadway, you aren’t a hero for staying open. https://t.co/XUqehVhUeR— MAREN MORRIS (@MarenMorris) March 15, 2020
On Sunday afternoon, Cooper said he was convening a special emergency meeting with the Metro Nashville Board of Health to declare a public health emergency in the city. "The Metro Public Health Department possesses the authority to take extraordinary actions to protect public health," Cooper said.
Cooper ordered all bars in Davidson County to close, including those in Broadway. Restaurant seating capacity was lowered to 50 percent, with no more than 100 people allowed in any establishment at one time. Bar service at restaurants was also capped at 50 percent capacity and no standing is allowed, reports The Tennessean.
"We also are asking restaurants to take social distancing precautions, including the spacing out of tables for customers," Cooper said Sunday. "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."
Although Cooper's move will lead to the loss of millions of dollars, he earned support from members of the business community and local politicians.
The Metro Board of Health has scheduled an emergency meeting for today at 5:00 PM. In advance of that meeting, I am asking for specific, short-term action to be taken effective immediately regarding our bars and restaurants. pic.twitter.com/xxbuwYypbC— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) March 15, 2020
"We are in full support of the decision of the Mayor and Metro Nashville Board of Health regarding bars and restaurants," Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, said. "Any short-term mitigation to slow the spread of this virus is invaluable to our long-term recovery and more importantly the health and safety of our community."
"I strongly support the actions recommended by Mayor [Cooper], and encourage our Metro Board of Health to approve them for the health and safety of [Nashville]," former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist tweeted.
There are more than 3,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of Sunday afternoon, and 62 reported deaths.
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