Nashville Bars Account For Only 122 COVID-19 Cases, But Continue To Face Harsher Restrictions

The Center Square [By Vivian Jones] – 

Only 112 of Nashville’s 27,009 cases of COVID-19 can be linked through contact tracing to the city’s bars, according to data from the Metro Public Health Department, with 109 of the 112 cases linked to bars downtown.

Despite bars accounting for less than half of one percent of the city’s COVID-19 cases, bars have faced some of the most stringent restrictions under public health orders since pandemic-related shutdowns began in March. 

Mayor John Cooper announced Friday bars would be permitted to remain open until 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Titans football game scheduled for Monday night against the Denver Broncos.

“Thanks to our progress in lowering the spread of COVID-19, [the Metro Public Health Department] approved an exception to extend restaurant & bar hours on Monday night to accommodate fans watching the first [Titans] game. Restaurants/bars may remain open until 30 mins after the game. #MaskUp #Titan Up,” Cooper tweeted Friday.

When Nashville’s “Road to Reopening” began May 11, bars serving food were allowed to operate at half capacity. Limited service bars that derive the majority of their revenue from alcohol sales were ordered to remain closed. When the city moved to phase two of reopening May 25, bars were ordered to remain closed.

On June 22, when the city moved to phase three, bars were allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Two weeks later, when Cooper reverted the city to phase two, bars were ordered to close for 14 days.

“Our public health investigators have found a record number of clusters originating from bars within the past week, which have affected employees, patrons and musicians. Multiple bars in the downtown and Midtown neighborhoods have recently closed because of outbreaks among their staff and patrons,” Cooper said during a July 2 news conference.

Under modified rules in effect since Aug. 17, bars may reopen with required social distancing to serve a maximum of 25 patrons, but they must close no later than 10:30 p.m.

Nashville has 984 active COVID-19 cases, with 25,777 recovered cases. The test positivity rate reported Friday was 6.8 percent. A total of 248 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in the city.

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