New alcohol rule is the governor trying not to shut down bars, Clark County health commissioner says

Nikki Callicoat pours a draft beer behind the bar at O'Conner's Irish Pub Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Nikki Callicoat pours a draft beer behind the bar at O'Conner's Irish Pub Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County’s health commissioner said the state’s new emergency measure stopping alcohol sales at 10 p.m. is the governor trying “very hard not to shut down the bars.”

“What he is trying to do, he is trying to not to take away some people’s fun. But we have several outbreaks across the state that are specifically linked to bars and nightclubs and he’s trying to do the best he can to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charlie Patterson said during his weekly update on the status of the coronavirus in the county.

Approved on Friday morning by the Liquor Control Commission, last call for drinks at all Ohio bars and restaurants will now be 10 p.m. Gov. Mike DeWine asked the commission on Thursday to consider the emergency measure.

Under the new measure, consumption of alcohol will end at 11 p.m. Businesses can stay open, but by cutting off alcohol sales at 10 p.m., DeWine said on Thursday he believes it would help thin out crowds and therefore slow the spread of the virus.

“The problem is, bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors,” DeWine said. “Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hop. Either way, they interact with many different people, especially the younger crowd.”

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Patterson echoed DeWine’s comments.

“People get together and they may not social distance, they may not wear masks as often as they should and the more alcohol that flows, the later in the night that it gets, there are more opportunities for non-social distancing and non-mask wearing to occur,” Patterson said.

The decision hasn’t been without backlash. Cheryl Johnson and Deb Ricketts were discussing the new regulation at O’Conners Irish Pub in Springfield on Friday afternoon.

“I think Gov. DeWine is out of line on that. It should be up to the individual and the establishment,” Rickett said.

Johnson agreed with her and said every adult “should have the freedom to make their own decisions about ordering a drink.”

“How many people are going to sit at a restaurant if they can’t have a drink with it? It’s going to have a filtering down effect where it will affect the establishment you are at,” Johnson said.

Tim McFarland was also at O’Conners when he heard about the new regulation.

“It is what it is I guess. Do I think it’s right though? No,” McFarland said.

Clark County had 1,058 cases, 11 deaths and two probable deaths, of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Health website.

As of Friday, ODH reported 91,159 confirmed cases, and 3,489 deaths, of the coronavirus in the state. The state saw 1,533 new cases from Thursday.

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Facts & Figures:

10 p.m.: Time all Ohio bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at until further notice

1,058: Number of coronavirus cases in Clark County

13: Number of deaths in Clark County, including two probable

91,159: Number of coronavirus cases in Ohio