The City of New Orleans has shut down two bars on N. Claiborne Ave., including Kermit Ruffins’ Mother-in-Law Lounge, for violating coronavirus restrictions.
"After ignoring repeated calls and warnings to stop violating the rules and guidelines relative to the opening of bars, the owners and management of these venues, left us with no other options, but to immediately shut them down,” a City Hall spokesperson said in a statement.
The other venue is the Gallery Lounge, located at 1544 N. Claiborne Ave.
The bars are accused of contributing to “major problems with large gatherings of massive crowds” underneath the Claiborne bridge between Esplanade and St. Bernard avenues. “The primary concern was the threat of potential community spread of the COVID-19 virus, in addition to other concerns of public safety,” according to the spokesperson.
The news comes as officials prepare to announce guidelines for Phase 3 of the city’s reopening, which could allow bars to reopen in some capacity.
Attempts to reach management at the Mother-in-Law Lounge were not successful, but the bar denied contributing to gatherings under the bridge in a statement posted to its Facebook page Thursday morning:
“We care about the safety of our community and our customers. We will continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines with our band members during our livestreams. The gatherings that happen under the bridge are not associated with the Mother In Law Lounge. Stay safe y’all.”
Ruffins was one of several local celebrities to contribute to the city’s “Mask Up” initiative this year, encouraging people to wear masks in public.