Ohio representatives introduced a bill on Tuesday seeking to reinstate normal business hours for bars and restaurants with liquor licenses in order to boost business.
The bill would remove the sanctions placed on Ohio bars, which currently bans alcohol sales past 10 p.m. and consumption past 11 p.m. Regulations would instead return to the Ohio Revised Code, which allows sales until 2:30 p.m. It also waives any disciplinary action taken against a bar or restaurant for breaking the restricted hours on or after July 31, when it went into effect.
The legislation — sponsored by Reps. George Lang (R-52-West Chester) and Rick Perales (R-73-Beavercreek) — would not change other safety precautions at bars, saying, “any remaining portion of such rule that does not address the hours of operation of a liquor permit premises remains in effect.”
The bill follows a similar bill in the Ohio Senate.
The sponsors of that bill, Sens Larry Obhof (R-22-Medina) and Bob Peterson (R-17-Washington Court House), pointed to an August survey from the Ohio Restaurant Association, which said that more than half of the state’s restaurants could close permanently as a result of pandemic restrictions.
“Ohio’s restaurants and bars have suffered immensely from the restrictions placed on their industry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Obhof said in a statement when he introduced the bill on October 15. “In order to survive, we have seen them step up during this crisis and find innovative ways to safely serve their customers and keep hundreds of thousands of Ohioans employed. These are our friends, our neighbors, and leaders in our communities, and Senate Bill 374 will help them keep their jobs and their doors open.”
Ohio bar owners have said that the curfew is hurting their ability to stay open.
“Between 9 and 2 a.m. was really a time that’s most busy for us. So we’re anxious to get that back, if possible,” co-owner of Bar 145 Brandon Saba told WOTL 11.
Saba said it would be nice to have normal hours back.
“It’s time to be fair to these businesses that have paid taxes and worked so hard to stay open and keep something nice for Toledo and the surrounding area,” Saba said.
Read the full House legislation here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.