Coronavirus Pandemic Closes Nashville’s Lower Broadway, Other Bars
Nashville's famous Lower Broadway area, home to numerous honky-tonks and celebrity-owned bars, is being temporarily closed down to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced his proposal on Sunday (March 15), and it was shortly thereafter unanimously approved by the Metro Board of Health.
Mayor Cooper's proposal does not target Lower Broadway establishments specifically, but all bars throughout Davidson County. It also limits restaurant seat to less than 50 percent of capacity, with a cap of 100 individuals, and limits bar service at restaurants to 50 percent capacity, with no standing allowed, the Tennessean reports. As the Metro Board of Health approved the proposal, its members also declared a public health emergency.
"All this is to get us back to normal as soon as possible," Cooper says. Adds Board of Health Chair Alex Jahangir, "We are taking these actions to ensure the health of every person in our county and every visitor to our city. We must come together to take care of one another."
Nashville Director of Health Michael Caldwell will be working with Metro Nashville police on enforcement of the policies. However, Steve Smith -- owner of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Steakhouse and the Diner -- is protesting the plan.
"Unless there’s a statewide mandate that directs all bars and restaurants to be closed, the request made by Mayor Cooper is unconstitutional as he is targeting a select group of businesses," says Smith, adding that his establishments "will continue to remain open to serve the public until such statewide mandate is issued from the Governor of Tennessee."
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday (March 11) officially declared coronavirus a pandemic. According to the WHO, more than 156,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in more than 110 countries and territories; a total of 5,819 deaths have been reported worldwide as of Saturday night (March 14). In Tennessee specifically, there are 39 confirmed cases, including 17 in Davidson County, as of Sunday.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a travel ban that went into effect on Friday (March 13) at midnight. The ban only applies for foreign nationals, NBC News explains, not U.S. citizens, green card holders or the families of U.S. citizens. Additionally, Ireland and the U.K. are exempt from the travel ban, which applies only to people, not foreign goods or trade.
During his Wednesday night address, Trump also urged Americans to be cautious with their health: to wash their hands and stay home if they're feeling ill, and to get tested for coronavirus if they think they may have it.
Within country music, artists are doing their part by either postponing or canceling both concerts and entire tours, while festival organizers are both rescheduling and canceling springtime events. Among others, the annual Stagecoach festival, usually held in April, will now take place in October, while Zac Brown Band have chosen to delay the remainder of their springtime tour dates.
In Nashville specifically, both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry announced their closure due to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, though the Opry will continue its Saturday night broadcasts from the Grand Ole Opry House with a skeleton crew and no live audience. Also on Sunday, the Academy of Country Music announced the postponement of the 2020 ACM Awards.
Coronavirus Pandemic: What Country Music Events Are Postponed or Canceled (or Not)?