(WKBN) – The Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule Friday, banning the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.
The commission met Friday morning, approving the request for an executive order by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, with a vote of 3-0. The rule goes into effect at 10 p.m.
As promised, DeWine signed the order late Friday afternoon.
The rule is meant to force bars to stop serving alcohol earlier as a way to reduce late-night crowds.
DeWine said as part of the mandate, bars and restaurants could stay open but could not sell alcohol after 10 p.m. Patrons would have to consume the drinks by 11 p.m.
DeWine did note that establishments that have been selling alcoholic drinks in a carry-out capacity can continue that practice and it will be expanded to three drinks.
Jeff Kurz is co-owner of Imbibe and Ryes in downtown Youngstown. He said he and his partners and staff have been taking the Governor’s orders seriously ever since they were allowed to re-open from the first shutdown in May.
“On the couple of times the people were not complying, we shut the bars down to force compliance,”Kurz said.
But scenes from other bars in Columbus and summer hot spots like Put-in-Bay got a lot more of the governor’s attention.
“When you have people like us who are complying, we are then punished for the actions of those who are doing that,” Kurz said.
Blue Wolf Tavern owner Joe Rzonsa thinks the new rule is a “knee-jerk reaction.” He said the losses are going to hurt, especially after taking a 30% hit after the pandemic hit.
“This is going to be so impactful. It’s going to take another 20% from us for sure. There is no way to make that up at this point,” Rzonsa said.
Rzonsa said the fear created by the coronavirus has done more to hurt bars and restaurants than anything else but says his bottom line depends on what he can bring in on Friday and Saturday nights. He’s already anticipating cutting staff.
Both Kurz and Rzonsa think this latest mandate could be the last straw for some businesses.
“This is really a shutdown for bars to be quite honest,” Kurz said.