Health officials in Tennessee have cited 14 Nashville businesses including a restaurant owned by singer Kid Rock for not complying with coronavirus public health orders.
Metro Public Health Department Director Michael Caldwell visited Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse on Saturday after receiving a complaint, news outlets reported, citing a statement from the health department. Caldwell issued a citation “for serving people that were seated at the bar and for not observing proper social distancing inside the establishment.”
The business will be fined, with the amount decided during a court hearing, officials said.
Attorney Brian Lewis, who represents the owner of Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk and other businesses, said the citation was “selective prosecution,” and they intend to fight it.
“We find it very unfair that Mayor [John] Cooper can encourage thousands of people to march with him in violation of his own phases, but he wants to hold the Nashville business community hostage,” Lewis said.
Gov. Bill Lee and city and county officials have been easing restrictions on businesses during a gradual reopening of the state’s economy in recent weeks. Some critics have said Tennessee is moving too quickly by reopening businesses in the face of increased cases.
Nashville is reopening in four phases. The city is currently in its second phase and last week delayed moving to its third phase due to an increase in coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Shelby County’s health department reported an increase of 256 cases Monday, the largest daily jump in reported COVID-19 cases since mid-March.
A total of 200 virus patients are being treated in Memphis-area hospitals, up from 192 on Friday, according to data provided to the city and county’s virus task force.
Officials said last week that Memphis and Shelby County could enter the next phase of reopening businesses Monday. But plans to move ahead are being delayed due to a “disconcerting” upward trend in cases and increased hospitalizations, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said during an online news conference Monday.
“It would not be prudent for Shelby County to move into phase three at the current time,” she said.
Restaurant, retail stores and other businesses would be allowed to increase capacity from the current 50 percent to 75 percent under phase three of the reopening plan.
As The Tennessee Star reported in March, staff at Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse announced in March that they would temporarily close due to COVID-19, per a city order that all bars on Lower Broadway must shut down.
This, even though the Steakhouse owner originally said he would defy that order.
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