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North Alabama bartenders worry about impact of new alcohol sales restrictions

The new rule will be enforced Saturday. ABC Board members maintain the right to reverse their decision.

Posted: Jul 27, 2020 4:21 PM
Updated: Jul 27, 2020 8:18 PM

Monday, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board unanimously voted to prohibit bars or any establishment with a liquor license to serve booze after 11 p.m.

The board members passed the measure after being asked by the Governor's Office to come up with something in response to the rising coronavirus numbers.

Board members said during the Monday meeting that the governor wanted the time to be 10 p.m., but they compromised on 11 p.m.

Starting immediately, bars and other places cannot serve alcohol after 11 p.m. and all alcoholic beverages must be off a table by 11:30 p.m.

While in effect now, the board said the rule will not be enforced until Aug. 1.

Bars and other places can still stay open for however long they want and serve food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The board's move surprised bartenders across North Alabama and left them wondering how the new rule is going to be enforced.

"It's putting a lot on us, ya know. We're already in a stressful scenario. We all are aware of what's going on in our community. We all know how serious (coronavirus) is but we all have to make a living for our families as well," said Huntsville-Madison bartender Allison Crutcher.

"Somebody may have already had a couple of drinks and then I have to be the one to come in and be the bearer of bad news per se And yeah I don't know what to expect, what if they aren't happy about it? Right now we're already getting a lot of anger towards us about wearing a mask."

On top of the worry about enforcing the new rule, bartenders have concerns about the loss of income. Most places in downtown Florence were starting to stay open later. Bartender Austin Mize said things were getting better.

"It's a very odd time to be a bartender right now. We went through months of not being able to work. We weren't earning any money then we get back and we have to be open at half capacity which is already taking money from us now we get this news ...," said Mize.

Mize said he has another job so he can stay afloat, but he normally makes most of his tips later in the night.

"11 to close is our time period where we make most of our money and having to shut down during our busiest hours is terrible for us," said Mize.

If a business violates the new rule they could have their liquor license suspended by the state.

If ABC inspectors make rounds at various bars they will be accompanied by ALEA officers.

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