The Ohio Liquor Control Commission held an emergency meeting this morning to pass an emergency rule that would limit hours for on-premises sales or consumption and expansion of sales of beer, wine, mixed beverages and spirits for off-premises consumption.
The vote was unanimous after several bar and restaurant owners commented asking the commission not to pass the rule.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called on the liquor commission to make changes to how late bars and restaurants can sell alcohol. The plan calls for ending alcohol sales at bars and restaurants at 10 p.m. Customers drinking at the bar or restaurant would then have until 11 p.m. to finish their drinks.
The reason for this change, the governor says, is because of the unique circumstances within bars and some restaurants.
“Let me just say to our bar owners, most of you are doing a phenomenal job. You’re following the directions, you’re doing everything you can to keep your bar open. Sadly, not every bar is doing that,” DeWine said in a Thursday news conference.
“This last week our Ohio investigative unit found bars where no social distancing safety measures were in place. The patrons were packed on outside patios, and a dance floor was packed shoulder to shoulder. Actors like this are in fact outliers,” said the governor. “There is, however, an inherent problem connected with bars. They do lend themselves to going in and out, people in close contact with one another many times indoors. Patrons either stay at one location sometimes for a long time, or they go from bar to bar. Either way, they are interacting with a lot of different people. This is especially true with our younger crowd.”
Michigan is among the states that have now banned inside service in bars, and Indianapolis has required bars to close early. Government officials say it’s because of the difficulty in keeping the coronavirus from spreading.
“We know of a case where a young woman in her twenties joined some college friends for a night out at a few campus bars over the weekend earlier this month,” DeWine said during the news conference. “She then went home, about two and a half hours away. She then later started feeling sick. She learned her friends had tested positive, then she did, too. Her parents got sick. Her brother got sick. So did her grandmother. Thankfully, the whole family quarantined, which prevented the virus from spreading even further.”
The proposed rule would make a change to carryout meals. Earlier this year, the state began to allow two drinks to be sold with carryout meals. As part of this plan, the state would raise the limit to 3 drinks per carryout.
“We do not want to shut down Ohio bars and restaurants. That would be devastating to them. But we do have to take some action, and see what kind of results we get from this action,” said the governor.
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