Will Cheek's Last Call Blog
Bending COVID-19 rules until they break
Jun 26, 2020
We are seeing significant upticks in state responses to violations of COVID-19 safety orders.
Hours ago (June 26), Florida suspended all sales of alcohol at bars. The state broke the news via Twitter.
Florida Gov. DeSantis’ order specifically refers to a spike in COVID “cases involving younger individuals (that) are suspected to have originated from visits to bars, pubs or nightclubs who have disregarded the restriction set forth in Phase II” of Florida’s order for reopening.
This morning, in response to a COVID spike, Texas Governor Abbott ordered all restaurants, shops, and most businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity. Bars are closed, except to takeout.
Keep in mind that Tennessee could implement a similar sanction on bars, closing limited-service restaurants to in-person dining and drinking.
The Texas ABC is not messing around! Earlier this week, the Texas ABC summarily suspended 17 liquor permits - without a hearing - for violating COVID orders and checklists. Read the release here.
Texas drinking buddy and liquor expert Dewey Brackin observes: “In all cases I’ve seen thus far, TABC has not given verbal or written warnings at the time they are on-site. These are undercover operations. Bars and restaurants are served Emergency Suspension Orders the next day.”
Locally, the Nashville Beer Board and Department of Health have ramped up enforcement.
Last week, the Beer Board issued 5-day beer permit suspensions against 4 downtown bars for violating one of the Health Department’s COVID restrictions. Read more here.
Reliable sources tell us that over a dozen businesses were brought before the Davidson County Environmental Court for various health department citations. We hear that at least one place was issued an injunction against having patrons sit at the bar. We also understand that the Environmental Court has threatened to terminate Business Licenses for future violations.
Although we question whether the Environmental Court has jurisdiction to terminate a business license, we urge local business owners to note stepped up enforcement actions.
Stay tuned for more information.