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Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane pushes for new safety measures in bars and clubs

Posted at 3:45 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 21:44:37-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said Wednesday he's working with owners of bars and clubs in Old Town's Entertainment District after videos and images showed packed spots over Memorial Day weekend.

Mayor Lane said city leaders, the police department and managers of those bars and restaurants will meet Thursday to come up with new guidelines and put measures in place to keep people safe.

He said the images of busy patios and crowds in lines were disturbing and showed a lack of common sense.

"We're serious about it. We try to minimize the knuckleheads that are messing with the whole thing for us," said Mayor Lane. "It's going to look like a more tempered situation."

Scottsdale police didn't cite any venues during the holiday weekend. Lane said police will cite if necessary, but he prefers to work with business owners. He made calls to them on Wednesday.

"We're looking for people to look responsibly and address the issue as best they can in their current environment," said Lane. "There will be some mitigating issues of health concerns, in order to facilitate something that's more reasonable in the distancing but at the same time it may incorporate some other measures they may need to have, like limiting capacity and those kinds of things."

Jeff O'Neil from Evening Entertainment Group will be in Thursday's meeting. The group has several venues including Bottled Blonde and Casa Amigo in Old Town.

O'Neil, the regional manager, said they were following guidelines during the weekend. They were operating at 60% capacity and had safety measures in place.

"Inside what they don't show is we put plexiglass in between tables, we didn't book tables bigger than 10 people in the party, our staff are in masks, we have sanitizer everywhere," he said.

O'Neil said they're working to add safety protocols and will work with the mayor's office.

"That's the challenge. We're all new at this. This is not something we were able to practice; we're doing our best. We're bringing on more bodies," said O'Neil.

Spellbound Entertainment Group, which operates Maya Dayclub and Nightclub, The District and other spots in Old Town, released a statement to ABC15 saying they've added guidelines to go "above and beyond what was required of us."

"We did not expect the influx of patrons this past weekend. Due to it being a holiday weekend and most other states still shut down around us, we got inundated with patrons from all over trying to get in. We did the best we could to follow social distancing guidelines given. We greatly appreciate Mayor Lane and city staff's concerns and do not disagree with them. We look forward to any additional guidelines to further provide a safer environment."

Riot Hospitality Group, which operates Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, El Hefe and Riot House sent ABC15 this statement in response:

“Leading up to and during the re-opening, our safety protocols for staff training and service, and our overall operations, go above and beyond what the state and county regulating agencies are recommending to our industry.”