NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A campaign is encouraging bar patrons to "be a Honky Tonk Hero" and mask up to stop the spread of COVID-19.
A group of the owners of downtown bars and restaurants are working together to help push for visitors to Broadway follow health and safety guidelines.
The hope is by bringing COVID-19 numbers under control, it’ll allow bars to open, stay open, and keep more people working.
Bar patrons are being asked to do the following items:
- Stay home if sick
- Wash hands frequently
- Wear a mask at all times within an establishment unless seated
- Socially distance while walking within bars/restaurants and when outside on Broadway
- Wear a mask outside on Broadway whenever possible
The downtown bars and restaurants participating in the campaign will have free masks for patrons without one. The patrons will be asked to keep the masks as they head to their next destination.
“If you love our entertainment district, our employees, and our musicians, we’re going to ask you and everyone who comes to our establishments to do their part and be a Honky Tonk Hero,” Brenda and Ruble Sanderson, owners of Broadway Entertainment said in a statement on Wednesday. “Being safe and respectful isn’t just best for the health of everyone downtown. It allows us to open and stay open by keeping the employees, musicians, and vendors who rely on us working. We’re playing our part, now we ask you to play yours.”
While many bars remain closed, several restaurants are open and the bars plan to be ready to follow this campaign when they open at a later date. Bars closed down in early July because of spiking COVID-19 numbers, they aren’t expected to open back up until mid August.
"We want to reopen our businesses," Layla Varcanian, who has owned Layla’s Honky Tonk for 24 years, said. "For us bar owners, we have to do it because we want to open. We want to practice safe health, the coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, but we can help combat it."
Nashville will remain in Phase Two of the Reopening plan as the Davidson County has seen cases of COVID-19 "rising at an alarming rate," according to health officials and lawmakers.
The campaign also helps protect the health and safety of those working along Broadway.
"We believe opening bars can be a part of the solution—just as restaurants are doing a good job working under the city’s guidance, bars are ready and able to operate the same way,” Barrett Hobbs, owner of Cumberland Hospitality Group, said in a statement on Wednesday. “When bars open it will allow us to help alleviate overflow in the streets and bring patrons into a socially distanced environment that we are able to control and enforce health guidelines. Our employees and musicians are eager to come back to work to act as ambassadors for our campaign and for safe and healthy practices throughout downtown.”
The campaign will encourage of guests of downtown establishments to follow CDC best practices such as:
- Educating employees about when they should stay home and when they can return to work
- Cleaning all surfaces after use by a patron
- Requiring frequent employee handwashing
- Requiring the use of masks among all staff as feasible
- Adapting layouts to ensure all customer parties remain at least six feet apart
- Offering drive-through and curbside take-out options when applicable
- Maintaining physical barriers between performers and audience
- Using disposable, virtual or no-touch menus where possible
- Maintaining parties of maximum six people or less
- Removing use of self-service food, beverage and shared condiments
Signage will be inside and outside of the participating bars and restaurants. Staff will be trained to speak to customers about best practices.
“We can’t be with visitors every step of the way, and don’t have the ability to enforce outside of our walls, but we want to be ambassadors for doing the right thing,” Sean Marshall, who handles strategic operations for multiple businesses downtown, including Tootsies, The Diner, Rippy's, Honkytonk Central, and Kid Rock's, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our employees will remind every person they serve that by following the rules, no matter where they are, they can help keep Lower Broadway open and its thousands of employees back at work providing for their families.”
Marlena Turner, who is from Virginia, said it’s very difficult to see many businesses shut down.
"I will wear a mask for the establishments. I’m not a gung-ho mask wearer, but I do believe in the small businesses," Turner said. "If me wearing a mask gets them to open up, I will wear a mask."
News 4 was along Broadway all Wednesday afternoon and most people with a few exceptions are wearing a mask.