LINCOLN–(KFOR/News Release Aug. 1)–Hours after ordering a Lincoln bowling alley and pool hall to shut down for the violating the city’s direct health measure in preventing the spread of COVID-19, city officials say they will take civil legal action next week for not complying with a city order to close for 24 hours.
Early Saturday afternoon, the owners of Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards at 4700 Dudley were notified by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to close for 24 hours from 2pm Saturday until 2pm Sunday because of numerous violations of the current DHM. EJ’s Lounge inside Madsen’s also was included in the shut down.
On July 29, LLCHD staff met in person with Madsen’s management and provided the current DHM along with information on how the business could comply. LLCHD continued to receive additional allegations of DHM violations between July 29 and 31.
On July 31, LLCHD staff inspections of bars and restaurants included Madsen’s, where significant violations were identified. The violations included signage on doors indicating that the wearing of masks was optional, employees not wearing face coverings, and no physical distancing of patrons.
However, the owners are not complying with the order, which has led to legal action to be pursued by the City Attorney’s Office.
The Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) authorizes the Health Director to order the closure of any business for the purpose of controlling communicable diseases. The DHM violations observed by LLCHD included signage on doors indicating that the wearing of masks was optional, employees not wearing face coverings, and no physical distancing of patrons.
The DHM states that failure to comply will result in legal action for enforcement by civil and/or criminal remedies. According to the LMC, “any person who is found to have violated any provision of this Order within the City of Lincoln shall be guilty of a City Misdemeanor and subjected to a fine of no more than $500.00, or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or both. Each day that a violation of this Order continues is punishable as a separate and distinct offense.”
The DHM also states that the City Attorney “may institute injunctive or other appropriate civil proceedings necessary to obtain compliance or to abate any nuisance resulting from violations of this Order.”
Two Lincoln Police Officers accompanied a representative of LLCHD in delivering the notice to Madsen’s, and Health Director Pat Lopez said this is common practice for LLCHD.
City Attorney Yohance Christie said it is the responsibility of businesses to follow the DHM requirements, and no legal action would be taken against customers of the business. But Lopez today reminded residents that the risk of COVID-19 spread locally remains high.
“Our contact tracing has shown that many individuals tested positive for COVID-19 after patronizing bars and not wearing masks,” Lopez said. “This is very risky behavior. We need our residents to take personal responsibility for their actions. This virus spreads quickly, and the actions we take now can jeopardize not just the health of our loved ones, but also the health of our entire community.”
For more information on the DHM and on COVID-19 in Lancaster County, visit COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.
READ MORE: https://www.kfornow.com/mask-violations-trigger-bar-shutdown/