Mecklenburg County leaders discuss possible restaurant and bar restrictions

Mecklenburg County leaders discuss restaurant and bar restrictions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Another Weekend and more videos are surfacing from Charlotte showing crowds at restaurants and bars across the city.

Gibbie Harris, Public Health Director for Mecklenburg County, said bars and restaurants are not responsible for all the new cases in Mecklenburg County, but says it’s definitely contributing.

“As infectious as we know this virus is, if you look at what were seeing on social media with the lack of masking and lack of social distancing we know it’s one place its being transmitted,” said Gibbie Harris.

County leaders are now discussing the possibility of further restrictions on restaurants including giving them a timeframe of when they’d be allowed to serve food and drink.

They say they are looking into what South Carolina did where the stopped alcohol sales at 11 p.m. and what Orange County, NC did to restrict people inside a restaurant at night.

County Manager Dena Diorio said this discussion happened after several videos surfaced online of several restaurants, which the public said were overcrowded.

“Want to see why we’re going to be shut down pretty soon,” asked one person in a video. “See any social distancing? Nope.”

Ink N Ivy was one of the restaurants seen in video from this weekend. Back in June, the restaurant group sent WBTV a statement, which they said on Monday still applies, saying they are following all Phase 2 guidelines.

“Our stated occupancy levels for capacity are 805 individuals, throughout the space. At no point were we over a capacity of 402 individuals (which would be 50%) this past weekend or previous days of operation since Phase 2′s inception. This is verifiable, as we have security personal at all entrances and exits for capacity control. In addition, we have added sanitation stations at each entrance and erected barriers at some of our previously considered high traffic areas to help patrons social distance.”

When WBTV spoke to the spokesperson for Ink N Ivy today they said “obviously anyone can take any pictures or videos anytime they want and frame the narrative in any manner they choose.”

And added that they continue to count for guests to not go over their 50 percent capacity. They’ve also started to require masks to enter in to the restaurant.

Dr. Robert Redfield with the CDC was in Mecklenburg County on Monday to discuss Charlotte’s response to the pandemic. He weighed in on the busy restaurants over the weekend.

“I do think it’s critical that we recognize certain businesses that have a tendency to facilitate irresponsible behavior such as bars that stay open late in the evening. At this point in the epidemic, I think they should be closed,” Redfield said.

But they’re not the only restaurant with crowds over the weekend. A video from Explicit Bistro and Lounge was posted on Twitter showing a club-like atmosphere.

Two photos from All-American Pub were sent to us as well showing customers not social distancing.

WBTV reached out to both representatives for those restaurants and did not receive a statement back.

Right now, County Manager Dena Diorio says the county is only discussing these further restrictions on restaurants. She did not give a timeline on if a recommendation will be announced or not.

“We are looking at what South Carolina did in terms of closing restaurants as well as Orange County, North Carolina,” Diorio said. “We’re looking a that based on some of the things were seeing in Mecklenburg County. We might make a recommendation if we want to follow suit. That is under discussion at this time,” Diorio said.

As of now, the county is not discussing any future economic shutdown. The county health officials are urging people to wear masks whenever they’re in public.

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