HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Madison County residents celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in crowded bars over the last weekend, undermining recommendations from state health officials.
Huntsville and Madison County are not subject to any mandatory bar regulations, but state and federal health leaders are urging “social distancing.”
Facebook posts from Jefferson St. Pub and Sammy T’s Music Hall in downtown Huntsville over the weekend show standing room only, packed crowds.
Both posts went online Saturday, March 14.
The coronavirus had been labeled a a global pandemic by the World Health Organization since March 11.
On March 12, Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris called for social distancing.
“These are the same things we’ve been talking about for several weeks now, we would encourage people to use good hygiene, to wash their hands, to cover their cough, and when they’re in crowds of people, try to stay at least 6 feet apart," he said.
The recommendation at the time was to avoid crowds of 500 people or more. He said the recommendation stood regardless.
“The number of people in the gathering is probably less important than the actual social distancing that goes on," he said.
On March 13, Alabama announced its first 6 cases in a single day.
Madison County Chairman Dale Strong said bars and clubs should be taking a cue from health officials.
“It’s not called a pandemic for the heck of it," he said.
“As far as the bar situation, it’s totally not in compliance with the CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health.”
Sammy T’s declined an interview request, and Jefferson Street Pub has not returned a request for comment.
Strong said strengthening the regulations on clubs and bars will fall on city leaders and the state health department.
Tuesday, the ADPH ordered five counties surrounding Jefferson County to ban onsite drink consumption for bars, restaurants and breweries.