Washy’s cancels large concerts

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Washy’s Saloon in Waterloo canceled a controversial concert set for this Saturday after consulting with the Monroe County Health Department, then decided to stop other full-band concerts for the time being.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said he discussed the Dec. 19 event – a performance by the band Platinum Rock Legends – with the business owner, and they decided it was in the public’s best interest to cancel the show.

“I support the restaurants for indoor dining with social distancing, but with a big concert like that, this is not the time to be having something like that,” Wagner said. “And Washy’s agreed after I talked to them. It was a very amicable conversation.”

Over the weekend, Washy’s Saloon updated its website to say that, after Dec. 19, there will be “no bands… until the end of COVID.”

Wagner stressed that action was not mandatory. 

“Through discussion with the health department, they may have elected to (cancel those shows), but we are not shutting them down,” he said. “I have had no discussion with them about the little bands.”

Smaller live music acts, such as members of popular local band Well Hungarians performing as an acoustic duo, are  still scheduled to play at Washy’s through the rest of the year. 

A large New Year’s Eve concert that was to feature the band Superjam was canceled. 

Washy’s Saloon was cited in September by the Illinois State Police for allowing indoor dining when the state said it was not allowed while this region was under mitigation measures aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

At the time, Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann declined to prosecute that case, saying there was “no such rule” prohibiting indoor dining under Illinois law. 

The establishment has continued offering indoor dining since that decision. 

On Friday, Wagner stressed that his office does not support any gatherings of 50 people or more where social distancing cannot be maintained, noting the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules passed those regulations on capacity limits and social distancing.

“Local and state police have the authority to enforce such rules as written,” Wagner said. “The Monroe County Health Department does and will continue to contact facilities that we hear of planning such events, and (we) will inform them of the state’s position in an effort to stop the event and prevent the need for enforcement.” 

Wagner told the Republic-Times his statement was prompted after a FOX2 reporter asked him for comment for a story about the planned Dec. 19 concert at the saloon, located at 1324 Jamie Lane in Waterloo. 

Wagner said it was the first he had heard of the event. 

“I knew nothing about the concert that was planned,” he said. 

A video of Platinum Rock Legends playing earlier this month at a packed indoor venue in St. Charles, Mo., recently went viral.

Prior to updating its website, Washy’s Saloon still had other live music scheduled, though there was no cover charge like there would have been for the Dec. 19 concert. Those acts also tend to draw smaller crowds than Platinum Rock Legends. 

If any of those gatherings would have violated the rules approved by the JCAR, Wagner said the business could have faced penalties. 

“If they were to have something, state police and local law enforcement are the ones who can enforce that 50-person capacity,” he said. “State police would be down here for something like that.” 

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