Coronavirus: Kid Rock's Nashville Bar finally agree to close after initial refusal
Ø Steve Smith, the co-owner of Kid Rock's Nashville initially refused to shutdown the bar despite the official orders. However, late Monday, he reportedly backed down and agreed to close all the bars he owns.
Ø “In cooperation with the Mayor’s office, Tootsie’s, Honky Tonk Central and Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk have closed to help protect public health,” Smith’s rep said in a statement to Variety.
Ø Nashville's Mayor John Cooper recently ordered for closure of all bars throughout Davidson County, Tennessee, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Ø Smith initially said that he won’t comply with the order. “We appreciate the efforts of Mayor Cooper to combat the COVID-19 virus, but 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," he said in a statement, according to Yahoo News.
Ø The Metro Board of Health has also given support to the plan of shutting down all bars in Davidson County.
Ø Nashville Mayor’s decision to close bars and set other restrictions, came after a Twitter user shared a video of a packed bar. The tweet quickly went viral.
Ø As of Monday, there were 52 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tennessee, including 25 in Davidson County.
Freedom Isn't Free
I woke up this morning to the declaration of a state of emergency in my home. It’s been expected, to be sure, but it is still a shocking thing to see. The city of Toronto has closed down all bars and restaurants, except those that deliver take out, and all non-essential businesses are now shut down. The provincial government has promised 300 million dollars of aid for residents and promised that no one will lose their job during this period of crisis.
President Trump has done much of the same, declaring a state of emergency and promising aid to workers. So why make this stand for your restaurant? The owner thinks it is unfair targeting of selected businesses. Restaurants and bars are the most densely packed places in society besides public transit. The reason for selecting these bars is not out of anger that they are having fun while everyone else is trapped inside, but that they are flaunting their liberty in the face of the safety of their immediate neighbours – their brothers and sisters in the beautiful city of Nashville.
Now I ain’t never been to Tootsies, but I have walked Nashville's Broadway, sang at Santa’s Pub, and walked the hallowed halls of third man records, and Nashville is one of the most lively and fun cities I have ever been. All the more reason for the business owners there to recognize the great responsibility they have in keeping people safe during these times. People are going to want to congregate around a guitar pickin' man, crack open a Budweiser, and party til the coronavirus just can’t keep up. But the point of the measures that countries around the world are taking is to prevent the spread to the vulnerable; and when 200 healthy people gather in a bar and then go their separate ways they could be bringing the virus home with them to 1000+ unhealthy people. The loss of freedoms we are experiencing are startling, and frankly scary, but if we accept our individual responsibility in this time we can return to normality all the quicker.
I agree with my colleague on many of his points, especially on the responsibility business owners have to protect the welfare of their patrons. However, I believe that Smith, the owner of the bar, has every right to remain open despite the ongoing threat to public health.
Why is it the government’s job to dictate to its population what to do with their money? Allowing the government this power, even in a “crisis,” sets a bad precedent. As bad as coronavirus is, it could easily be downplayed to be compared to problems the government has always wanted to manage itself. Yes, it’s the slippery slope argument, but don’t roll your eyes! Look behind you five, ten, even twenty years. How long have conservatives been making the slippery slope argument? And have we been right? The answers are “forever” and “yes.” How long until this power is used to shut down gun manufacturers or retailers, end oil and coal companies, shut down insurance companies, or to clamp down on Christian bakeries for not making gay wedding cakes? As the left says, gun violence is a “crisis,” climate change is a “crisis,” student debt is a “crisis,” homophobia is a “crisis.”
There will always be another “crisis''. And if we allow a precedent to be set of government bureaucrats shutting down private industry and stifling defiant business owners, eventually these bureaucrats will realize that they can do anything they want if they can inspire enough hysteria about it. And with 58% of journalists being self described liberals, and only 4.4% being self described conservatives, I’m worried about which narrative can be more easily weaponized into hysteria, and lead to the undermining of our constitutional rights. I wholeheartedly believe that we should make a statement to that end, and not allow the government to grow comfortable overstepping its bounds.
Expect more legal challenges...
This is only the beginning. As predicted, the move towards clamping down on freedoms that most people aren't used to losing will create more push back especially when their livelihood hangs in the balance. It's easy to write this off as some local rednecks who don't understand the law, flying in the face of common sense but I'm sure the owners of these bars are protecting their workers and their businesses.
Restaurants and bars are particularly hard hit right now and on any average day it can be tough staying in business in an industry with sometimes razor-thin margins. As predicted earlier, we are moving towards more of a Martial Law type scenario with several cities already declaring curfews just days ago, including the city of Hoboken New Jersey. People are not used to being under strict curfews and the times that we are now in are unprecedented. Perhaps not since World War II has anything like this ever occurred and even then the shortages of food may not have been as pronounced as they are now or soon may be.
That said, the owner of the bar is legally wrong of course and the city does have the right to close down the bar under this and other scenarios for the safety of the people. There's no constitutional amendment and nothing in the Bill of Rights that gives people the right to open a business, or operate that business with a license indefinitely. The business can't of course be shut down for religious or racial reasons but that is not the case here. The city is absolutely within its rights and what I'm afraid will happen is violence now, where local police will be forced to physically remove people when in fact they have much more important matters to attend to.
People are not willing to give up their livelihoods without a fight even if they don't stand on solid legal ground. Expect more of this to happen and there could be very ugly scenes via viral video on social media in the days to come.
It is a tough and unprecedented time. People and business owners are no doubt afraid in the face of the extreme measures they are experiencing in their cities and lives. I have a lot of good friends in the service industry who are now all applying for Unemployment Insurance for the first time in their lives, unsure whether they are going to be able to pay their bills, keep their businesses open, or even keep food on the table.
This is why it is so important for the government to follow through with its promised protections and aid for workers. If the government can help ease the fear and panic that people are feeling, then situations like this will not become the new normal. It is easy to get mad at the restaurant owner here, but I think there is a greater lesson to be taken from this article. This is a time period where increased empathy will be key in understanding what is happening in the lives of others. It is a time where we are all suffering a shared crisis. A person cannot hide behind the age old adage of “What’s hurting someone else isn’t hurting me”. At this moment people in the states are going through the same situation as people in Iran, China, and France, to name a very few. This is a man afraid of losing his livelihood and business in one of America’s great tourist centres. If we work to understand the undue stresses and pressures that other people are under right now, then we shall be better prepared to cope with life changing situations like this in the future.
For we cannot just be empathetic with business owners and workers, but for the elderly and sick in these moments as well. We all have a roll to play in stopping the spread of a deadly virus, and if we learn to be sensitive to an individuals trials and how we affect them, then the entire human race could come out of this crisis with a stronger resolve and understanding than ever before.