Lincoln issues second closure order to Madsen’s, but it’s still open

Around 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, multiple Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department officials...
Around 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, multiple Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department officials issued a second order requiring Madsen's to close indefinitely(Abbie Petersen)
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 10:38 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Less than three hours after Lancaster County District Court Judge John A. Colborn dismissed the City of Lincoln’s injunction request, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department issued a second closure order, requiring Madsen’s Bowling and Billiards to shut down for Directed Health Measure violations.

Late Thursday, the city sent our sister station 10/11 NOW a copy of the order. Madsen summed it up like this:

“You’re closed indefinitely until we allow you to open back up,” he paraphrased. “I will not follow that order.”

The closure order is very similar to the first, citing numerous DHM violations. It mentions health department officials went back in on Thursday, Aug. 6, and continued to observe violations.

It orders Madsen’s to close and remain closed until “such time that Madsen’s submits a reopening plan for abiding by the Directed Health Measure” and that the plan is approved by the health department.

That plan “shall contain planned number of guests, how the location will meet physical distancing guidelines, and sanitation guidelines.”

In an exclusive interview with 10/11 NOW, Madsen said health department officials showed up around 6 p.m. Thursday with the order. They were not accompanied by Lincoln Police.

In dismissing the injunction, Judge Colborn wrote, based on how the DHM is written, the city already has an ‘effective remedy’ in enforcing the closure and that it ‘shall use law enforcement’ to do so.

Madsen said this all started on Wednesday, July 29, when the health department came to do a compliance check.

“They said that we were in compliance at the time, so I signed the paper, and I was like ‘Great. See you later,‘ ” he said. “She specifically said we will be in to do a ‘sting’ on the business at a busier time when the compliance may not be as easily followed.”

On Saturday, Madsen’s was issued the first closure order, required to shut its doors from 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2. In the order, the health department cited numerous DHM issues, including violating the mask mandate and not requiring parties to be socially distant. Madsen refused to close.

On Wednesday afternoon in Lancaster County District Court, both sides laid out their cases.

“We’re in unprecedented territory,” he said on Thursday night. “Nothing like this has ever been done before and nobody has stood up and defied them before. At this point, I have no idea what to expect.”

Madsen told 10/11 NOW, even with the second order, he won’t be changing the way he operates.

“I’ll continue to allow people to be in control of their own health,” he said. “It’s not my job as the general manager of a business to police anybody’s health. Like I’ve said before, masks are absolutely welcome in the establishment.”

As of Thursday night at 9:45 p.m., Madsen’s remains open to all customers, mask or no mask.

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