CLEVELAND — Agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit, local law enforcement and local health department officials cited seven establishments with a total of nine administrative citations this past weekend.
These citations come after receiving complaints that the Ohio Department of Health orders put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus were not being followed. Undercover agents were inside Ohio bars and restaurants across the state.
The vast majority were playing by the rules, but not all of them and some of the businesses cited are here in Northeast Ohio.
Four local establishments with liquor permits were slapped with improper conduct and disorderly activity after agents didn’t like what they saw.
At Dante’s Inferno and Backyard Bocce, agents said, patrons were congregating with no social distancing measures in place. Customers were also engaged in arcade games and bocce ball with no social distancing, according to OIU.
At Forward, agents said they observed several hundred people on the premises and saw egregious violations of Ohio Department of Health orders. The report said patrons were standing, congregated, and dancing on a dance floor, the bar, and on tables. No social distancing measures were in place. Food was not being served and it was solely operating as a dance club, agents said.
Club Paradis was cited twice in as many days. Agents said more than 150 people were in the confined space and no social distancing measures of any kind were in place at the adult entertainment establishment. Agents said patrons, dancers and staff were having repeated direct contact. The club was cited the next day with a second violation.
"We took a lot of steps to be compliant,” said Westley Carter, general manager of Club Paradis. “We put on masks, we’re separated by plexiglass,” he said.
This past weekend, 311 establishments were visited by OIU agents; the vast majority are following the rules.
“A lot of our enforcement has been complaint-driven because we’re working jointly with the Department of Health,” said OIU Agent-in-Charge Michelle Thourot.
“The goal of these compliance checks is to safeguard all patrons by ensuring that liquor permitted establishments maintain compliancy, so they can continue to serve their customers, and everyone can enjoy a safe and healthy experience,” she added.
These cases will now go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission for potential penalties, including fines and or the suspension or revocation of liquor permits.
Although many bars and restaurants were found in compliance with health orders, a number of warnings were issued throughout the weekend.
News 5 reached out to the four local businesses cited for comment but have not heard back.
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