NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Party buses were packed with people over the July Fourth weekend as bars were forced to close due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Nashville.
"Everything’s closed so it’s kind of a bummer, but again it’s probably smart," Kayle Porisch said.
Porisch and Nick Keller were visiting from Minnesota. A tractor hauling a trailer, a hot tub on wheels, a pedal tavern, and other party vehicles passed by them on Broadway.
“Unsafe,” Porisch said, “As long as you’re with the same people you’ve been with, that’s OK, but if it’s with new people then you’re just going to possibly keep spreading it.”
Metro’s Transportation and Licensing Commission Director Billy Fields said he’s not sure they should even be operating. “If you would have asked me I would have said there is no way to have transpotainment in the downtown area because there’s no way to socially distance or practice safeguards.”
Fields said he plans on having a chat with the health department as soon as possible after seeing pictures from the weekend.
“We don’t want anybody out of business but the reality is the public’s safety is at risk,” Fields said.
Over the weekend, most company’s were extremely busy. We talked to Extreme Party Nashville owner Paris McKinney over the phone. He said he talked to the health department about phase 2, and was told to limit capacity to under 25 people and to book private party’s only. McKinney said his workers had on masks and gloves. Customers were asked to bring masks, and they spent 30 minutes cleaning and sanitizing after each run. They're also not doing random pick-ups but requiring reservations.
As far as enforcement goes, Fields said there’s a loophole.
“Anything that’s got more passengers than 14 passengers and a driver, anything bigger than that is outside anything we can regulate,” he said.
He tried to get the state law changed last session, but it didn’t happen. Now, he’s turning his energy to figuring out a safe plan for transpotainment as cases continue to increase.
“I’m hoping we can get compliance and keep people the safest we possibly can,” Fields said.
We reached out to the Metropolitan Board of Health, but it’s a holiday weekend. We’re hoping to get clarification from them sometime this week.