HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Alabama Beverage Control Board approved an emergency order to restrict alcohol sales in an effort to curb COVID-19 cases. The emergency health order calls for bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol after 11p.m. nightly.
“The primary mission of the Alabama ABC Board is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens and we take this mission very seriously,” said ABC Board Chairperson Col. Alan Spencer. “We are very sensitive to the economic impact this rule will have. This is a gut-wrenching decision we are making today, but it is also gut-wrenching to see the number of Alabamians who are suffering from this disease. On balance, I am compelled to vote in favor of the rule. This will be a very short duration and will relieve this restriction as soon as possible.”
The emergency rule is effective immediately, but will not be enforced until Saturday, Aug 1. Beginning at 11 p.m. Saturday, all ABC licensees are required to cease the service and/or sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. with on-premise consumption to end at 11:30 p.m., according to ABC.
“Our hope is that reduced hours of alcohol service will decrease social gatherings and the transmission of COVID-19,” said ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson. “Our number one goal is to protect the public and our license holders. We believe this emergency order will reduce the exposure to and spread of COVID-19.”
Mayor Tommy Battle said in Huntsville, he notices the masks come off late at night and people forget to socially distance.
The hope is the decreased hours will decrease social gatherings and the spread of the virus.
“Some of those are places we have had concerns with, we’ve been watching very closely and been monitoring,” said Mayor Battle. “I think this will just be part of the strategy we are doing. Face masks is part of our strategy, staying separated is part of the strategy, washing hands is part of the strategy, and now making sure all that happens after 11 is part of the strategy too.”
Mayor Battle said officers will enforce this new order the same way they have been with the mask order. He said notices will be going out to establishments explaining the dos and don'ts of the new order.
An initial proposal was to make “last call” at 10 p.m. but decided to push the deadline back after hearing from local bar and restaurant owners.