Amicable resolution: ADH, Rockin' Pig reach agreement over alleged mask violations
By Samantha Jones
The Arkansas Department of Health has reached an “amicable resolution” regarding Rockin' Pig Saloon's alleged violations of the state mask mandate, according to ADH public information officer Danyelle McNeill.
McNeill wrote in an email on Tuesday, Aug. 25, that ADH received full and complete cooperation from the Rockin' Pig's management team, representatives and owners. A standard epidemiological review indicated that two people that tested positive for COVID-19 had some contact with the restaurant at some point in time, McNeill wrote.
"But it must be emphasized that there is not any causal linkage between the two persons who tested positive and the allegations against Rockin' Pig," McNeill wrote. "There is not any evidence that connects the alleged violations of the restaurant to the two persons that were positive."
Gov. Asa Hutchinson lifted COVID-19 restrictions on dine-in service at Arkansas restaurants on May 11, requiring that restaurant staff wear face coverings at all times and customers wear face coverings until their drink is served.
Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, wrote in an email on Aug. 25 that ABC agents have completed compliance checks on restaurants and bars throughout the state. Hardin wrote that ABC submitted the results of the Rockin' Pig compliance visits to ADH.
"Upon learning that the Health Department is handling, ABC determined ABC violations would not be consistent with policy (if Health Department is handling we do not take action)," Hardin wrote.
Hardin wrote in an email on Aug. 10 that ABC agents initially visited Rockin' Pig on July 2 and informed the bar's management that the establishment failed inspection as there were employees not wearing masks, along with customers. The agents issued a verbal warning at the time, Hardin wrote.
"Agents again visited the Rockin' Pig on July 30," Hardin wrote. "The issues that were observed July 2 remained consistent and had not been corrected."
Marshall Johnson, who runs Rockin' Pig Saloon, referred the Citizen to his family attorney Chip Chiles for comment. In an email on Aug. 25, Chiles wrote that the Rockin' Pig Saloon and the Arkansas Department of Health jointly entered into a consent decree on Aug. 2.
"We cooperated completely with the Department of Health, and their final conclusion of facts in the Consent Decree was accurate and fair," Chiles wrote. "Most notably, as a result of their in-depth investigation, the Department of Health did not find a causal link between our mask policy and a contact-tracing report of two customers who came to our restaurant in the 14 days leading up to their positive diagnosis."
Chiles wrote that there was "absolutely no evidence that those two customers had the virus when they came to our restaurant or that they contracted it during their visit."
"Any suggestion otherwise is just flat wrong. At no time has any employee been diagnosed with the virus," Chiles wrote. "The health and safety of our customers and employees continue to be our top priority."