Tourists and bar owners react as Nashville reverts to Phase Two


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — News 2 took to Lower Broadway to find out how people were reacting to the news that their favorite bars would be shutting down.

On Thursday, the vast majority of people on Lower Broadway were tourists, and most had different opinions about the city’s plan to revert to a “modified” Phase 2.

“I think we could be overreacting a bit, we could be. I feel we should just be protecting the vulnerable populations and allow everybody else to take their chances and choose if they want to be out or not,” said Marc Lemieux, visiting from California.

Mark Peterlin from Ohio said he saw few people on Broadway wearing a mask, “I’m not really sure, I see a lot of people… not even having a mask on. Yeah not a lot of people at all, maybe 10% of the people.”

Some tourists remarked that they understood the decision that city leaders made.

“We’re here on vacation and we can have fun whatever happens. I understand that they have to do this. If it’s for everyone’s safety, we will just adapt,” said David Norville of South Carolina.

Kayleigh McKenna of New York said this, “Personally I think it’s pointless at this point. It’s summer, everyone wants to get out. I think if people are scared and everything they should just stay home and let the people that want to go out, go out. And if they get it [COVID-19] then that’s their problem, if they’re willing to go out.”

On the brink of a holiday weekend, bar owners are prepping for yet another shut down.

“It throws a lot of unknown variables back into the picture,” said Matt Fung-a-fat, co-owner of Harding House Brewing in the Nations.

“You wake up this morning trying to figure out how to survive, and you just get your knees cut out from under ya,” said Barrett Hobbs, operating partner for Nashville Palace, Scoreboard Bar and Grill, Bootleggers, Doc Holidays, Whiskey Bent Saloon, and a handful of other businesses.

Hobbs says seven of his businesses will have to close due to the new order.

“It means firing 146 employees because we have exhausted our PPP money,” said Hobbs, “We’ve exhausted our savings. We’ve exhausted all of our money. The city has not given us anything. The state has not given us anything.”

Under the new modifications, businesses that primarily make revenue with the sale of beer or alcohol will have to close for at least 14 days. Restaurants can stay open at 50% capacity, but customers will not be able to use the bar areas.

“That means for us, we are not allowed to do any on site sales,” said Fung-a-fat, “Everything is to-go. We are still able to do beer delivery which is a new thing for the Nashville beer industry.”

Bar owners say they fully understand the need to take action against the spread of COVID-19, but there has to be a balance between business and public health.

“I’m perplexed and disappointed that our city made such a drastic decision,” said Hobbs, “They could have put some safeguards in place, asked us to do it, we would have done it.”

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