The Alabama Beverage Control Board on Monday voted to cut off sales of alcohol at bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. each night to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In an emergency called meeting Monday the three-member board voted unanimously to cut off sales at 11 p.m. and require all alcohol sold to be consumed by 11:30 p.m.
Mac Gipson, administrator of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, told board members at the start of the meeting that Gov. Kay Ivey’s office contacted the board last week saying Ivey “was going to have to make a move because of the rising rate of the coronavirus in Alabama.” One suggestion from Ivey’s advisers was to close bars and gyms, Gipson said, but the board was tasked to come up with a different solution.
Gipson said the original plan was to cut off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and require all alcohol sold to be consumed by 10:30 p.m., but after advertising that plan he said numerous business owners contacted the board suggesting 10 p.m. was too early.
“I contacted the State Health Officer and he thought it should be 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.,” Gipson said.
Despite that suggestion from Alabama’s State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, Gipson said the decision was made to push cutoff back to 11 p.m. with all alcohol sold to be consumed by 11:30 p.m.
Board members agreed, and said during the meeting that the move was a way to prevent a complete shutdown of bars and dine-in restaurants.
“I will tell you that this is a gut-wrenching decision for us that we’re making,” said board member Alan Spencer during the meeting.
Spencer said it’s gut-wrenching for the small businesses and their many employees, but “it’s also gut-wrenching to see people from our communities that are fighting for their lives in local hospitals.”