Board OKs closing Nashville bars, limiting restaurant seats

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

NASHVILLE (AP) — A health board in Nashville on Sunday agreed to close bars and limit restaurant capacity in the country music capital to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Metropolitan Board of Health of Nashville and Davidson County declared a public health emergency while approving the request of Mayor John Cooper.

Cooper said his request includes the short-term closing of big tourism draws at the honky tonks of Lower Broadway as well as bars throughout Davidson County. He also said restaurants should limit their seating to under 50 percent of capacity, capped at 100 individuals.

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He also asked that restaurants space out their table seating but encouraged them to remain open.

“It is our responsibility to set an example in keeping our community safe,” he said.

Steve Smith, who owns several major honky tonks, said he would keep his businesses open unless ordered shut by the governor.

Nashville Predators forward Nick Bonino said Lower Broadway needs to shut down.

“I understand that people have the freedom to do what they want, but please, if you are able to stay at home right now, do so,” Bonino said.

Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators play their home games, is close to the bar district.

“When this is over, I’ll see you all at Bridgestone and on Broadway, that’s a promise, but for now stay healthy and safe,” Bonino said.

As of Sunday, Tennessee had 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Seventeen cases were in Davidson County, 14 were in Williamson County and two were in Shelby County. Single cases have been found in Campbell, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Rutherford and Sullivan counties.