NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Bars along Lower Broadway are scheduled to reopen on Aug. 15. If – and when – that happens, they want to get it right.

Mayor John Cooper met with bar owners and the CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association to make sure reopening is done safely.

Tourists are a big part of the reopening equation and it is important for Nashville to get the point across, it’s a safe city to visit.

“The message we’re trying to convey to visitors, if you want Nashville to be here next year, you will wear a mask,” said Rob Mortensen, President/CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association.

Mortensen has been meeting with Cooper on reopening bars on Lower Broadway for the past three days.

“One of the things I keep hearing from the mayor is, ‘I want you all back in business, I need you back,’” said Mortensen. “However, we have to understand how we move the city back as a place where we are all safe.”

Cooper wants to avoid scenes that gave Nashville a black eye recently, people gathering shoulder-to-shoulder along Broadway without masks.

The center of the discussion with Cooper has been not only how to open safely, but to get tourists to buy into it.

“I think masks is one of them. Also how we congregate,” said Mortensen. “What we know is that when folks get together, they take their masks off.”

The big success story has been the reopening of restaurants with limited capacity. Cooper is looking at copying that model as one option to reopening bars.

“What we found out, restaurants are a really safe place,” said Mortenson. “We are sitting people at no more than six per table keeping social distance. All of these procedures in place to keep people safe in restaurants.”



Alan Frio is the anchor of News4's evening newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays.

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