On Tuesday, the Alabama ABC Board rescinded Emergency Rule 20-X-6-.19ER Emergency Hours of Operation. This rule, approved on July 27, required all alcoholic beverage licensees to cease on-premise sales at 11:00 PM. The revocation is effective immediately, so bars and restaurants can now close at their normal time, subject to other state and local regulations.

The Board then approved a new Emergency Rule (20-X-6-.21ER) which gives the Board authority to enforce current social distancing guidelines as well as new directives of the State Health Officer. Specifically, the rule requires:

  1. No more than 50% occupancy
  2. That customers and employees wear appropriate masks except when seated or in an outside area
  3. A minimum six foot distance between individuals and groups
  4. Designated sales and service areas for walk-up service that allow for six feet of separation
  5. Hand sanitizing stations on the premises
  6. Cleaning and sanitation procedures in conformance with guidelines from the State Health Officer

The rule also requires licensees to abide by future directives of the State Health Officer.

Licensees found to be in violation of this rule are subject to immediate suspension.

During his remarks, ABC Administrator Mac Gipson referred to the 11 PM closing time as a “business killer” and urged the Board to rescind and replace with the new order.

The new order gives the ABC and local enforcement broad authority to suspend operations for a licensed establishment that does not follow current social distancing guidelines. Bars and restaurants  should carefully follow the directives of the new rule and the State Health Officer to avoid further business interruption.