August 5, 2020

IN KNOXVILLE, THE SHUTDOWN RESISTANCE CHALKS UP A WIN: Bars can reopen with 10 p.m. curfew, Knox County Board of Health votes.

Local bars will now be able to stay open until 10 p.m., the Knox County Board of Health voted on Wednesday night. The regulation would go into effect immediately and end Aug. 20.

The vote was nearly unanimous; only Dr. Dianna Drake voted in opposition.

On Tuesday, Board of Health member Dr. Pat O’Brien introduced a motion to end the bar closure order and impose a curfew on bars instead. Dr. O’Brien is the former owner of a Casual Pint franchise. The co-founder of Casual Pint, Nathan Robinette, said that he would defy government orders to close his bar.

“We have been thankfully not finding clusters of cases related to bars and restaurants in our community,” said Dr. Pat O’Brien to the board in support of his amendment. “We need to give a little bit on this one thing until something points us in the direction that this was not the right decision.”

Plus: “While Nashville had a major hot spot in the Broadway nightlife area, Knox County has not seen similar clusters.” That’s right, the science — contact-tracing, etc. — doesn’t support bars as a major source of infection, yet they voted to close them anyway. This was met with defiance, and now they’ve changed the rule. The curfew, I suspect, is mostly just a face-saver.

And let me add, where’s the science? We’ve been doing testing and tracing in Knox County for going on 5 months. If they don’t know where people are getting it and where they’re not — and they’re still making health regulations based on guess-and-try rather than the data they should have in hand — then they should expect more resistance in the future.

UPDATE: Turns out the Nashville bars weren’t actually a hot spot either.

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