Come 11 p.m., it’s last call for Alabama’s bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
On-premise consumption is to end at 11:30 p.m.
In one of the more puzzling state mandates in the battle against COVID-19, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved an emergency order that limits the hours of operations for restaurants, bars and other entities that sell alcohol.
While the new rule is noble in its intent, COVID-19 does not recognize quitting time.
It’ll take much more than that to stop the coronavirus from spreading, and that effort must be realized and practiced by bar patrons on their own accord before much good will come with halting COVID-19’s playground in bars.
The new rule does, however, perhaps fire a shot across the bow to warn bar patrons of what’s next if this doesn’t help.
Beginning Saturday, all ABC licensees are required to end the service and sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“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,” ABC Board Chairman Alan Spencer said in a statement.
True, and just as true is the dilemma state officials face in weighing public safety vs. economic survival.
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, the Associated Press reported.
Health officials nationwide agree that bars can 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, and that is the only way Alabama through mandates can turn such businesses into ineffective coronavirus spread zones.
Difficult as it is, and certainly no fun, only a change of heart and mind within careless and non-abiding patrons who ignore social-distance and other safety guidelines can best keep bars open.
Not an early last call.