Federal judge denies restraining order from Nashville bar owners

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Attorney Bryan Lewis told News 2 the restraining order from Nashville bar owners against Metro has been denied.

Lewis, co-counsel for plaintiffs, said a Federal judge denied the retraining order filed by bar owners. The ruling stated the local health director has the authority to take such action during a pandemic.

The Local Spot, Harry O’s Steakhouse, Kid Rock’s Big Honkytonk, Honkytonk Central are a few of the bars that brought the motion. They believed their rights were being violated and they have suffered enough since being forced to shut down.

The order requested Metro officials not be allowed to enter their businesses and shut them down, or prosecute against citations two those bars have already received.  

Lewis said his clients are willing to follow restrictions, but they want the same rights as all other restaurants.  

“They can have patrons come in, operate at 50% capacity, they can have people sit at tables where there’s proper social distancing and serve both alcohol and food and have entertainment if they want to,” Lewis said.  

The city is not only focused on enforcing bars to stay closed under the modified version of Phase Two, but also the mask mandate, which has been in effect since the end of June.

“We have been working with the police department and they have been warning and giving out information about the mask mandate. we have been in discussion with the Metro Nashville Police Department in the last few days. The last thing they are ironing out is the legal process for how those citations will be handled once they’re issued. Once that’s ironed out, the citations will start to be issued to individuals that are found not wearing them,” explained Hugh Atkins with the Metro Board of Health.

​Anyone found not in compliance with the mask order could face a Class C misdemeanor and a possible fine of $50.

Many small business owners are expressing frustration with what they consider a lack of transparency.

Some had the opportunity to reopen as Nashville moved forward on the roadmap to reopening, but then had to close again when the city moved back to a modified Phase Two.

Proprietor Barrett Hobbs spoke with Vice Mayor Jim Shulman about how businesses are coping. Hobbs said it’s like taking multiple body blows in a boxing match with so many changes, owners can’t plan for what’s next.

“They have their plan and they kind of know what their numbers are but by the time it goes through, all the formulas and all the research and the back and forth, by the time it gets to the street level and us business folks, sometimes we only have three or four days to react either to open a business up or to close a business,” said Hobbs.

​During that conversation, Hobbs said closing bars at the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend was the most devastating news yet. Hobbs added it is unfair for every bar to be punished for the poor decisions other businesses have made during the pandemic.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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