The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decided Monday to restrict alcohol sales in the state to fight COVID-19.
It was a unanimous vote that alcohol sales will be cut off at 11 p.m. for on-premise sites such as bars or restaurants. Under the emergency order, drinks will have to be off the table by 11:30 p.m. under the new restriction.
These restrictions have a 120 day limit, but they can be rescinded by the board at any time.
Daily COVID-19 cases in the state continue to climb, with almost 3,000 new cases reported this past weekend.
A board member says Gov. Kay Ivey contacted the agency and said something needed to be done to reduce the rising COVID-19 rate and that the suggestion was to close bars and gyms.
But ABC board members said they had a lot of negative feedback, especially from bars in the beach areas, so they came up with what they hoped was a happy medium.
One board member said the concern was that alcohol lead to a higher degree of fraternization.
The emergency rule is effective immediately, but will not be enforced until Saturday, Aug. 1.
“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.”
It is widely believed that alcohol consumption reduces inhibitions, the ABC Board pointed out. After consuming alcoholic beverages individuals are less likely to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines, including the wearing of masks and social distancing, potentially increasing the transmission of COVID-19.
“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.”