City officials said they will take no further action today, but will take civil legal action next week against Madsen's Bowling & Billiards, 4700 Dudley Street, after the business failed to comply with an order by the Health Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) to close for 24 hours. Madsen's was notified earlier today that it was not allowed to operate from 2 p.m. today until 2 p.m. tomorrow because of numerous violations of the current Directed Health Measure (DHM) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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.