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Methusela, seen in this file photo, has been ordered closed during an investigation about COVID-19 violations.

Methuselah Closed Until Further Notice for COVID-19 Complaints

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Update: The Licensing Board is holding a special meeting on Thursday, April 29, at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom for a show cause hearing for Methuselah.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A lounge owned by a city councilor is again being investigated for COVID-19 violations and ordered closed by the Health Department.

Methuselah Bar and Lounge, owned by Councilor at Large Yuki Cohen, was issued an order not to open on Saturday in relation to alleged violations from Thursday evening captured on video. The establishment will not be open until the Health Department completes its investigation.

"At this point, it's still under review with the Health Department," Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong said Tuesday. "We're working with the owner, you know, addressing, I don't want to release too much information at this point, but the Health Department is reviewing the matter and working with the owner."

The videos, which were originally posted on the social media platform Snapchat, depicted Cohen dancing atop the bar unmasked with other patrons, patrons standing up unmasked, and a general "club-like" atmosphere.

"We are addressing several violations to the COVID-19 safety standards for restaurants," Armstrong said. "The review also includes working on a plan for operations that ensure compliance with the COVID-19 standards."

Armstrong did not confirm the content of the videos included in the investigation. The descriptions are based on videos sent to iBerkshires by eyewitnesses.

The Board of Health received the footage late last week and additional footage on Saturday, leading to the mandate that Cohen not open the establishment.

That same day, Armstrong sent out an email to the remainder of the City Council reading:

"Some of you are aware of reports made to the Health Department about COVID-19 violations at Methuselah's Thursday evening. I have been in communication with the owner. Methuselah's will be closed while the Health Department assesses this situation. Inquiries about this matter can be referred to me."

Armstrong did not provide a timeline for the investigation and did not say if Cohen will face the Licensing Board over this matter.

In late January, the Licensing Board suspended Cohen's liquor license for Methuselah for two days after a hearing for three alleged pandemic violation complaints that included pictures and anonymous testimony.

Cohen was also fined $1,000 for COVID-19 violations in December 2020. A Gofundme campaign to help pay the fine and offset losses raised $4,828.

Because of the anonymous nature of the evidence submitted, the board weighed the fact that this it was not Cohen's first time in front of the Licensing Board, as Methuselah faced a five-day liquor license suspension in 2018.

Tags: closure,   COVID-19,   

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