The city of Knoxville is suspending a bar's beer permit for 60 days after a hearing concluded it "flagrantly" disobeyed health orders issued to protect patrons and employees from COVID-19.
Knoxville police officers cited Paul's Oasis multiple times over the past few months for violating a 10 p.m. alcohol curfew put in place by the Knox County Board of Health as one measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when cases and hospitalizations were surging to new daily records. That 10 p.m. curfew was recently pushed back to 11 p.m. after the number of daily new cases and hospitalizations locally improved and continued to trend down.
On Tuesday, lawyers representing the city of Knoxville and Paul's Oasis argued their cases and heard from witnesses during a virtual hearing session with the Knox County Beer Board's Hearing Officer, Celeste Herbert.
Herbert issued her opinion and order Wednesday, saying it was clear Paul's Oasis was guilty of not complying with the health orders -- saying there was sufficient justification for immediately suspending its beer permit for 60 days and charging $7,000 in fines for the seven separate citations.
"Given the Permittee's flagrant disregard of the City ordinances and the rules of the Knox County Board of Health, Permittee is hereby ordered to educate its owner and employees on all applicable laws, ordinances, rules and regulations prior to reinstatement of its beer permit and provide proof of such education to the Beer Board for the City of Knoxville," Herbert wrote.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said the city "takes no pleasure" in revoking the business' beer permit.
"The City views this as a fair and just ruling. We take no pleasure in suspending any business' beer permit. But in this case, Paul's Oasis irresponsibly and flagrantly put its employees and patrons at risk by refusing to comply with the Board of Health's pandemic safety measures. We did what was appropriate and necessary to safeguard public health," Kincannon said.
Another Knoxville business that officers cited numerous times for disregarding health orders, Billiards and Brews, is set to have its permit suspension hearing in front of Herbert Thursday.