NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Businesses benefiting from Nashville tourism were forced to make last minute changes to stay open after Mayor John Cooper amended his Order 9 to close restaurants at 10 p.m. and shut down party buses and barges to slow coronavirus.
The amendment came late Friday closing the party vehicles, in a tweet Mayor Cooper stated “‘passenger vehicles for hire that are subject to the authority of the Tennessee Department of Safety on which passengers are allowed to consume alcoholic beverages.’ This in effect closes party barges, party buses, etc.”
Saturday, several “transpotainment” companies kept operating with adjustments saying the Mayor was setting a double standard for certain businesses.
Some party barge owners said looking at the mayor's Order 9, they felt if they stopped allowing alcohol on board, they were not acting any different than tour trolleys.
“It’s a sight seeing tour with music and fun,” said Nick Lyons, owner of party truck company Hell on Wheels Nashville.
Lyons told NEWS4 he’s keeping his party truck business open.
“It just genuinely seems like there’s a lot of double standards happening. What’s the difference between six people on a bike peddling or 10 people on a truck partying and 30 people on a trolley sight seeing?” asked Lyons.
“That experience has now shifted from a party tour to just a fun tour without alcohol.”
Several companies including Off the Wagon Tours, Honkey Tonk Party Express and Nashville Party Barge followed suit in a joint statement saying:
“The metro health department has amended order #9 and we have listened. Several companies, Off The Wagon tours, Honky Tonk Party Express, Nashville Party Barge and others, have choosen to not allow alcohol while on tours to adhere to the amendment. This has been an inconvenience to our customers but we strive to make our tours as safe as possible as always. We have been in contact with the Metro Police about the situation and even allowed some to document our situation with photos showing no alcohol.”
Some Nashville residents say they aren’t convinced.
“I thought I’d drive down here and see if it was really what I’m seeing on the news and it is and it made me so angry,” said resident and healthcare worker Susan Dyer who is frustrated with the spread of COVID-19 in Nashville.
Dyer said she wants to see the city recover from COVID-19 before welcoming heavy tourism again.
“Here comes one now. These folks want to come to Nashville. It’s not right. Where are our values?” said Dyer.