Statesboro police shut down a local bar Saturday night after finding violations during a COVID-19 compliance check.
While on a routine “COVID-19 detail,” where officers routinely check area businesses for compliance with state coronavirus mandates, officers noticed an unusual amount of customers at Southern Billiards and Burgers on Lanier Drive, which encompasses Cowboys Bar, said Statesboro Police Deputy Chief Rob Bryan.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders, which originally shut down all non-essential businesses, recently allowed restaurants to open back up to the public, serving food under strict guidelines and social distancing. However, bars and nightclubs have not yet been released from the COVID-19 quarantine order.
Bryan said he and other officers returned to Cowboys Saturday night and found “over 50 people” not observing social distancing, and consuming a variety of alcoholic beverages obtained from the bar.
“It appeared that the business was operating as a bar” and not a restaurant, he said. “The business was operating in a manner that did not appear to be in compliance with the governor’s orders.”
Officers took the business’s alcohol license and closed it down. Further action will be handled by the City of Statesboro, and the alcohol violations were reported to the Georgia Department of Revenue, he said.
Efforts to reach the business owner for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday, and a message left at the bar was not returned. Bryan said the business staff was cooperative during the shutdown.
The incident was the first time police were forced to take action during a COVID-19 compliance check, he said.
Officers and Statesboro firefighters check various businesses “of all types” daily, sometimes several times a day, to ensure compliance with the safety guidelines recommended by the governor, President Trump and the Center for Disease Control, he said. In all cases, except for Cowboys Friday and Saturday, “it appears everyone is observing the guidelines,”
Local, state statistics
As of Tuesday noon, when Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn released daily totals, Bulloch County’s positive COVID-19 count was at 43 confirmed cases. Two of those were fatal, and nine required hospitalization. Tuesday there was only one patient in East Georgia Regional Medical Center being treated for the coronavirus, he said.
Bulloch County EMS has transported a total of 19 probable cases, with five patients confirmed to have COVID-19.
Statewide, the Department of Public Health reported the following Tuesday at noon: 200,814 tests administered; 29,560 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 5,574 hospitalized and 1,303 requiring ICU admissions. There are 1,258 deaths.
Testing in Bulloch continues to rise, Wynn said. “We are up almost nine percent from (Monday,” he said of Tuesday’s testing numbers. “We can expect an increase in some of the numbers,” meaning the more tests administered will likely increase the number of positive coronavirus cases.
“Social distancing must continue if we are to see the better numbers continue,” he said. “Remember to wear a mask, follow CDC guidelines on hygiene, and always maintain 6 feet between you and others. Our Bulloch County numbers are holding steady so keep up the safety precautions …and let’s beat this COVID-19.”
The Statewide COVID-19/Confirmed Hotline is: (844) 442-2681.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.