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Columbus Shutters Nightclub After 'Flagrant' Violations Of Pandemic Restrictions

Ohio Investigative Unit

Columbus authorities have temporarily shut down the Aftermath nightclub after state agents discovered "flagrant" violations of COVID-19 health restrictions this weekend.

During a large concert at the Far East Side club on Saturday night, Ohio Investigative Unit agents with the Ohio Highway Patrolissued multiple citations for violating the state's rules for bars, restaurants and mass gatherings.

A temporary restraining order obtained by the city notes that agents found "approximately 400-500 people inside the aforementioned Premises, filled wall-to-wall with patrons, many of whom were walking around carry intact and partial liquor bottles, while several groups passed the partial bottles for consumption directly from the bottle. Several employees were not properly wearing masks, and 80% of the patrons were not wearing masks."

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of safety measures, the city says that Aftermath poses an "imminent danger" to both attendees and the larger community.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said the restraining order takes effect immediately, and will remain in place until the Franklin County Municipal Court takes further action – expected to happen on December 17.

“Last weekend’s indoor concert at Aftermath was in blatant disregard of COVID-19 health orders and social distancing best practices,” Klein said in a statement. “We are in the middle of a surge in coronavirus infections, yet the owners of Aftermath planned to continue hosting large-scale events at their venue, including this upcoming weekend. In the interest of community health, we secured an immediate shutdown of this property.”

While the OIU does not have the power to shut down the business itself, state agents issued a citation to owner David Shelton for improper conduct. That case will go to the Ohio Attorney General's Office, and then to the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, which could choose to rescind or suspend Aftermath's liquor license.

Klein said the city has six other cases pending for pandemic violations, including three near the Ohio State campus.

“What makes this case different is the magnitude of one single event and the flagrant disregard for all public health guidelines that have been put in place for eight months,” Klein said.

Violating the shutdown order is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.