AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into whether a Richmond County entertainment venue violated Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s Executive Order.
We looked into the weekend concert after being alerted to The County Club Dance Hall & Saloon’s video post of people watching the artist near each other without masks.
We heard from countless people who saw a short video clip from the concert Saturday. Their concern was social distancing and if the Governor’s Executive Order was violated.
We spoke via phone with The County Club owner George Claussen. He said the video doesn’t tell the full story and that night the business was actually below 50 percent capacity, at a little more than 30 percent. Claussen also said the Boosie Badazz concert brought out around 300 people, but the venue holds 1000. He said he wore a mask and it’s recommended, but not required. Claussen added that he is also in the process of selling The Country Club to new owners and is set to close soon. All chose not to speak on camera.
Governor Brian Kemp’s Executive Order from July 31 continues to require social distancing and ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is 6 feet between each person.
We also spoke with the concert promoter, who chose not to speak on camera. He said there was distancing until a few people raced to the stage when the main act came on, an artist who has been to Augusta several times. All contend that there was social distancing with the exception of what the video captured in the VIP area, which is also how Claussen described the front of the stage seen in the video. The promoter even added that the entire back of the hall was empty when people were at the stage, indicating the extra space there.
While the promoter said multiple deputies worked the concert, the Sheriff’s Office is investigating. In addition, a case report states that deputies broke up a fight and at that time, there were gunshots heard from the parking lot. There were no arrests and no shell casings found.
The mayor still condemns being out in public in Augusta with no mask. He shared these words at a press conference last month.
“It’s not enough to be at Twin Peaks, Oliviana’s, Hooters or any of these places and it’s standing room only and nobody has a mask on,” he said.
Again we want to remind you that there is no mask mandate in Georgia. And Gov. Kemp has restricted cities from issuing a mask mandate too.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps