Rathskeller owner responds to criticism over social distancing efforts

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INDIANAPOLIS — The owner of the Rathskeller in downtown Indy is responding to criticism over social distancing measures after a video of their crowded beer garden was posted online.

“We feel like we’re doing everything right to make sure this is a safe environment,” said owner Dan McMichael.

McMichael is adamant every rule is being followed.

“I think people have been photographed in here without their mask on, but they have a beer in their hand,” McMichael said. “So we don’t feel we’re doing anything wrong or illegal.”

Their outdoor beer garden, which has live music at night, is what’s in question. The crowd is limited to 250—half their usual capacity—and they posted reminders for masks and social distancing.

Even with those measures in place, people still gather.

“There’s the hope that people will stay and seat themselves at a table, but I will also tell you that human beings are going to be human beings,” McMichael said. “When you’re seeing friends you haven’t seen in a long time, you’re probably going to stand and talk for a moment and go through the normal motions of being a person who’s out having a fun night on the town.”

The Rathskeller has also seen long lines forming out back, and has put down tape to keep people 6 feet apart.

“We’re not sure we can be responsible for a city street, but we’re doing our best,” McMichael said.

According to McMichael, the county health department has made multiple visits but has given no citations. Despite the concerns, he strongly feels live music at the rathskeller is safe.

“We genuinely feel we are,” he said. “We honestly have done everything we possibly can to adhere to the health guidelines.”

The Rathskeller employees also clean the outdoor bathrooms between each use.

We have reached out to the county health department and are currently waiting to hear back.

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