Clarksville does what Nashville won’t: shuts down non-complying businesses amid #COVID19 outbreak

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Tarboosh, downtown Clarksville’s most problematic venue, was shut down early Sunday morning by an inspector with the Clarksville Fire Department, citing the venue for being over double their allowed capacity while the county is experiencing the largest COVID19 outbreak since the pandemic started.

Michael Rios (Clarksville Fire Rescue) issues notice to Tarboosh Clarksville
Michael Rios (Clarksville Fire Rescue) issues notice to Tarboosh Clarksville

While most businesses are limiting the number of customers allowed inside to slow the spread of COVID-19, Tarboosh Clarksville, at 117 Franklin Street in downtown Clarksville, has been packing their hookah lounge/bar with double and near triple their allowed capacity since they re-opened after pandemic restrictions were lifted earlier this month. Captain Rios of Clarksville Fire Rescue confirmed the club had at least 160 patrons inside when he arrived just after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, double the bar’s legal capacity of 80.

Clarksville Police standby outside Tarboosh Clarksville
Clarksville Police standby outside Tarboosh Clarksville

Saturday night’s surprise inspection came after multiple consecutive weekends of complaints about the club, whose patrons often end up in the streets of downtown Clarksville with alcohol from the club, disturbing the booming downtown residential district, business neighbors, public safety, and causing multiple responses from police including reports of disorderly conduct, public intoxication, fighting, and even drag racing on the downtown streets. We received a tip prior to the surprise inspection and were able to be onsite at the time it happened to record and broadcast the enforcement action.

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Michael Rios (Clarksville Fire Rescue) conducts an occupancy count of Tarboosh Clarksville
Michael Rios (Clarksville Fire Rescue) conducts an occupancy count of Tarboosh Clarksville

Over 25 members of the Clarksville Police Department accompanied the Fire Inspector to the scene, staging their vehicles on all sides of the downtown district before blocking traffic on Franklin Street and all arriving at the 117 Franklin Street location of Tarboosh. Upon arrival, Captain Michael Rios with Clarksville Fire Rescue ordered everyone from the building and counted them as they exited. He reports at least 160 patrons exited the building, double their legally allowed occupancy. At the time of arrival, there were at least 100 additional patrons already on Franklin Street, congregated outside the club, in addition to the 160 inside the small building.

Additionally, at the time of the surprise inspection, there were no signs of social distancing or anyone wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID19, at a time when Montgomery County is experiencing his highest spread of the virus since it started.

The owner of Tarboosh was available but did not wish to comment for this article. When we attempted to speak with him, he asked CPD to have us arrested for being on the public sidewalk. They asked him to return inside his business and continue his closing procedures, to be in compliance with the orders of the fire inspector. Tarboosh has also garnered attention in recent weeks for the trash and empty alcohol containers left along Franklin Street in the mornings after they are open and their patrons take the party (and their alcohol from Tarboosh) to the street outside after the building closes.

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