NewsLocal NewsAkron Canton News


Health officials raise social distancing concerns at Upper Deck in New Franklin

Posted at 4:47 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 18:23:46-04

NEW FRANKLIN, Ohio — According to Summit County Public Health, there have been more social distancing guidelines complaints against Upper Deck Bar & Grill than another business in the county.

"We've gotten a lot of complaints there in the last month or so. In fact, since May 15, we've had about 50 complaints at this facility so it's concerning to us," said Tonia Burford, the director of environmental health.

Some of the earliest complaints from May indicated people were not six-feet apart at the bar, guests were standing elbow-to-elbow with no masks and the patio was overcrowded.

Burford said the agency has done five inspections at Upper Deck and continues to work with the owners on compliance.

On July 3, an inspector issued a violation for not ensuring a minimum of six-feet between people inside the facility.

According to the report, "Customers were observed standing around with drinks in hand close together and not separated at all."

Management told the inspector they would get the inside area under control and the patio area customers were doing a good job social distancing, according to the report.

According to Public Health's order, Upper Deck must immediately come into compliance or close until it can obtain compliance. Violation of an order is a criminal and civil offense, the order reads.

Burford said there will be another unannounced inspection. If more violations are found, the Division of Liquor Control could begin steps to take away the bar's liquor license or the county could ask a judge to shut down the business.

"It's just like any enforcement action. You have to build a case," Burford said.

On Tuesday, News 5 called and stopped by Upper Deck for comment. A manager said she would pass on the request to the owners. There has not been any comment as of Tuesday evening.

There are several signs encouraging social distancing at the business, including one that reads, "Please help us stay open and social distance."

New Franklin Mayor Paul Adamson met with Upper Deck owners and managers prior to the Fourth of July weekend and said they were very cooperative.

"In general, they did the best they could as far as crowds. They seem very concerned and did what they could to limit capacity," Adamson said. "It's a difficult balance."

Burford said there have been 664 inspections of businesses during the pandemic. Of those, there have been 191 reports with COVID-19 violations.

Burford stressed the goal is to educate businesses and help them come into compliance.

"These are new rules and people haven't had to do this before," she said. "COVID-19 is here to stay. There's no end in sight and if we want our businesses to stay open, we have to help them stay open."