FLORENCE — At least one local bar owner says the emergency order adopted this week by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will negatively affect his business.
On Monday, the ABC board approved an emergency order that limits the hours of operations for restaurants, bars and other entities that sell alcohol.
Beginning Saturday, all ABC licensees are required to end the service and sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
On-premise consumption is to end at 11:30 p.m.
Matthew Young, a manager at On The Rocks in Florence, said the order will negatively impact his business as it will force them to shut down at midnight.
"It's unfortunate, and I'm still trying to find the basis behind all of this," he said. "We've had 150 people in here before the mandate and that cut us in half. This will cut us in half more."
Young said he believes if there was going to be an outbreak because of people being in a bar, "it would have already happened."
"I think this should have been done by county, but who am I?" he asked.
Since the pandemic began, nearly 80,000 people in Alabama have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,446 people have died. There were 1,599 people with COVID-19 in Alabama hospitals on Monday, the highest number since the pandemic began.
Some health officials have said bars could be a significant source of transmission because of the crowding together of people indoors, and people becoming less cautious as they consume alcohol. Several states have temporarily closed bars.
“Our hope is that reduced hours of alcohol service will decrease social gatherings and the transmission of COVID-19,” ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson said in a statement.
However, Scott Gresham, owner of Tennessee Street Billiards and Grill in Florence, said bar owners are worried that closing them down early will mean people will be more unsafe.
First, he said, there are generally two crowds at bars — an early crowd and a late crowd. He said bar owners fear that closing down early will push both crowds together, which will mean bars will become more crowded, just at an earlier hour.
"You're going to group them all up, you're going to have a lot more people in the place at one time," he said.
Then, Gresham said, the early hours for shutting down bars will lead to more people having house parties, where none of the disinfecting or social distancing rules will be enforced.
"They are going to be going to house parties where people are grouping up more, and they aren't going to be constantly cleaning and constantly making people observe social distancing."
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.