Mayor of Bloomington Tari Renner held a special meeting over Zoom Friday regarding complaints filed against downtown establishments disregarding COVID-19 safety protocols.
Renner made it clear that the job of the government is to keep its community safe during a health crisis. He explained his frustration with the lack of compliance from liquor establishments and addressed the confusion regarding the enforcements of rules.
“Certainly, the greatest responsibility for the government is the protection of the health and safety of its citizens of the community which is frankly at this point in a health crisis," Renner said. “We are living in stressful times — extremely unprecedented times really and we are having difficulty and a lot of challenges in deciding how to cope with these changing circumstances. There’s stress that comes from safety, economic well-being, amongst small business owners to large business owners as well as employees. Some of the stress has contributed to the misunderstanding and confusion regarding our enforcement of these health regulations.”
In an effort to be fair and understanding, the city is not taking action to enforce complaints but will be enforcing liquor licensing procedures regarding safety to limit COVID-19 exposure.
Twelve businesses were found in violation of the 11 p.m. closing hour and allowing indoor drinking. There were Windjammer, Cadillac Jack’s, Killarney’s, Fat Jack’s, Daddio’s, Maguire’s, Chaser’s, Six Strings, Elroy’s, Mulligan’s and Reality Bites.
Daddio’s plead guilty to the mandatory mark regulation and will pay a $500 fine per city attorney George Boyle.
Establishments explained the frustration and confusion regarding the city’s enforcement to COVID protocols.
Cadillac Jack’s owner Bill Bentley commented that bar and restaurant owners need more clarification on what actions will need to be enforced and through who.
“My question is that you are wanting us to follow all of these directions that the governor has put down, but what does that mean with respect too, is the Bloomington Police Department going to be going around checking people?” Bentley said.
Originally, Bentley understood that bars are supposed to take reservations and anyone who wants to walk-in and that bars are required to get names and phone numbers for contact tracing purposes.
“I need, and I think everyone else here on this panel, wants to know what exactly how far of an extent do we need to be taking for reservations and contact tracing?” Bentley said.
Renner made it clear that the city is made aware of violation from the protocols from routine police inspection and formal complaints and will continue to rely on going forward.
Co-owner of Brass Pig Smoke & Ale House Tyler Holloway stated his confusion based on his position with windows that are able to open.
“I’m in a unique position where I have windows that open and in the previous phase in the summer, they considered that outdoor seating. Is that still considered outdoor seating?” Hollway said. “I want to be in compliance [with the rules and regulations].”
Renner said the city isn’t looking to take action at the moment but that he is looking for voluntary compliance as everyone continues to navigate life with COVID-19.