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‘I'm going to have to lay people off:’ Huntsville bar owner says late night alcohol ban will hurt

The ABC board said last call is 11 p.m. with all alcohol having to be off tables by 11:30.

Posted: Jul 27, 2020 7:54 PM

Huntsville officials and a bar owners about the new rule will that will stop establishments from serving alcohol after 11 p.m.

The change is in effect now but won't be enforced until Saturday.

Leaders and bar owners WAAY 31 talked to had differing opinions about the new rule prohibiting late night sales, as the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said there is no data linking a rise in cases to bars and restaurants.

Mark Komara, Furniture, Factory Bar and Grill owner, said he was blindsided Monday morning when he learned the ABC board will now prevent him from serving alcohol after 11 p.m.

"They shut us down at 11 o'clock with no liquor sales. I'm going to have to lay people off, I'm not going to grow managers, cut my staff in half. They're going to have to go find other jobs," he said. "I don't think there was a lot of thought going into this."

He said his restaurant and bar was starting to rebound from the shutdown, but the latest news will hurt him and his staff.

"My employees. I just don't know how you can do this and just cut their [hours]. They have bills. It's going to cut their pay right in half," he said.

Tommy Battle, the mayor of Huntsville, and David Spillers, Huntsville Hospital CEO, both said they believe stopping the late night drinking in establishments will help stop the spread of the virus..

"Bars were an opportunity for a lot of people to potentially spread COVID just because of close contact. People are drinking and they don't have their mask on, they're talking and there is music," Spillers said.

"The restaurants and bars and nightlife places that happen after 10 or 11 at night, that will help the problem. Some of those are places we having been watching very closely and monitoring," Battle said.

Battle didn't say what businesses he was referring to, but the ABC board and local officials told us there’s no trace of an outbreak linked to any specific bars or restaurants in the area.

"I don't see how they can blame it on restaurants and bars if you are under the state health guidelines like I have been," Komara said.

The rule, which was signed Monday, will be in place for the next 120 days unless the ABC board decides to end it sooner. The order only stops the sale of alcohol in restaurants and bars. The establishments can still serve food or non-alcoholic drinks after 11 p.m.

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