I-TEAM: Watch what agents keep finding in local bars months after COVID-19 crackdown

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MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJWJ) — The FOX 8 I-Team has obtained exclusive video showing what investigators keep finding inside bars and restaurants despite months of cracking down on nightspots for violating health orders tied to COVID-19.

New video released to the I-Team shows what the Ohio Investigative Unit uncovered during a surprise visit to Vivid in Maple Heights. In video recorded by agents, you can barely find anyone wearing a mask. Barely see any room for anyone to move.

That led to a citation against the club for the third time for violating health orders.

The I-Team has reported state agents have cited bars all over the state week after week. Writing them up for serving after hours. Or, no social distancing.

One club in downtown Cleveland ended up cited twice in one weekend.

Yet, agents keep finding the same problems at so many bars and restaurants.

The I-Team checked to see what has come out of the crackdown.

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission has punished more than 70 bars and restaurants.

The commission took away one license. Many other licenses have been suspended for periods from days to many weeks. The commission also has issued fines, and more cases are pending.

Ohio Investigative Unit Commander Eric Wolf said, “We still have some places that are being defiant.”

He says most businesses checked are following the rules, but others still need to be convinced to do the right thing.

“We’re trying to assure the public and those bar owners that we’re holding those permit-holders accountable,” Wolf said.

Back at Vivid, we met a man at the door claiming to be a consultant. We asked him to explain why that place keeps getting cited. The man at the door wouldn’t fully identify himself, but he did take the opportunity to take a shot at the president for not following some of the same rules nightclubs are getting cited for not following.

He said, “He’s having all these rallies. Hardly anyone wearing a mask. No social distancing. And, you ask yourself,  ‘What does all this mean?’”

Then, he added, “We’re making the necessary corrections.” Vivid has already had its license suspended once. Now management there has to deal with yet another citation.

The Ohio Investigative Unit says agents are watching for more crowds at bars as the weather gets colder and more groups get together to watch football.

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