NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Crowds flocked to Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville over Labor Day weekend, which led Mayor John Cooper to close a portion of the road to traffic to allow more space for social distancing.
The city closed Lower Broad between Fourth and Fifth avenues from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday so pedestrians would have more space while waiting in line to enter reduced capacity restaurants and bars.
Mayor Cooper announced the decision on social media about an hour before it went into effect.
The decision came after thousands of people packed Broadway’s bars, restaurants and sidewalks Saturday night, creating the largest crowds Broadway has seen since the pandemic began.
Visitors told News 2 Mayor Cooper’s decision made a noticeable difference.
“It’s definitely a little less crowded, there definitely seems to be a lot more patrol from law enforcement, definitely feeling 100 percent safe,” said Fatine Ouazzani.
“It was more crowded last night than it is tonight, there’s more space on the sidewalks, more distancing,” said tourist Shannon Crawford.
The street closure created more room for bar-goers to walk around and space out. Lines formed in the street, rather than on cramped lower Broadway sidewalks.
On Saturday night, people packed sidewalks while waiting in lines to get inside establishments.
“I’m going to be honest with you, we’re walking up and down the street just like New York City. Back and forth like sardines,” tourist James Colley said.
Bars were closed last holiday weekend, the Fourth of July, as Nashville experienced a huge spike in COVID-19 cases. But that didn’t stop people from coming downtown to celebrate.
Similar crowds were seen around downtown Nashville during Memorial Day weekend when the city first began easing restrictions.
In early July, 88 of every 100,000 residents tested positive for COVID-19 and now that number has dropped to 15.2, making the transmission rate in Nashville the lowest since March.
Since then, the city has seen a slow but steady improvement against COVID-19 but health leaders warn we must do our best to avoid a relapse.
“We must remain vigilant and continue to do what we have been doing to fight this virus. We did see a spike after Memorial Day and after the Fourth of July holiday. We have made significant progress over the past several weeks. So please, let’s not lose the momentum we have gained over this holiday,” explained Dr. Alex Jahangir with Metro’s coronavirus task force.
On Saturday, 35 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Davidson County and on Sunday, the number jumped to 118. If Labor Day weekend causes a spike, it could be days or even a couple of weeks until the numbers reflect it.
Metro Councilwoman for District 7, Emily Benedict, tweeted she will introduce a bill at the next council meeting to propose closing Broadway to all traffic from Friday at noon until Sunday at midnight, from First to Fifth avenues.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.