CORONAVIRUS

New Health Order Keeps Ban On Alcohol Sales After 10 p.m.

Dec 8, 2020, 8:39 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Restaurant owners were already struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, and said a Utah health order issued in November banning the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. was making things worse.

The state extended a health order that was originally set to expire Tuesday.

The order kept one element that had business owners fired up. The expiring order banned the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m.

The new order will keep that requirement, with one difference – it will stay in place for counties considered high transmission areas. However, all of Utah’s 29 counties were classified as “Very High” transmission areas.

Restaurant and bar owners from Ogden to St. George threw their support behind a letter sent to Gov. Gary Herbert’s office Dec. 2 asking him to get rid of the alcohol ban sale.

Sources said the governor has read the letter.

In the new order – that lasts 9 days, until December 17 – there was no mention of CARES Act federal funding for restaurants and bars – something local restaurant owners said could save a lot of businesses through these challenging times.

The owner of Oakwood Grill in Draper, Michael McHenry, said they’ve been filling 30-40 percent of their total occupancy.

“We have 88 seats (in the restaurant), and now we are down to 44 seats,” he said.

McHenry said they were ready to be fully opened again when the health department allows it, but he was more eager to talk to state leaders about restaurant restrictions in place.

The National Restaurant Association issued a new report Monday that showed 17 percent of the nation’s restaurants permanently closed in 2020.

McHenry has seen it happen in Utah, and said there is more of a fear since the 10 p.m. alcohol ban was put in place in November.

In light of the surge in coronavirus cases, he said the additional restrictions haven’t worked.

“Fifty percent of the business decreased almost immediately overnight. Well, that’s a lot of people’s jobs getting removed,” he said. “What I have seen is the devastation it caused to economics. What I didn’t see is the decrease in cases or the spread.”

Other restaurant owners said they felt the same way. The owner of Twist, a bar and bistro in Salt Lake City, said he planned to sue the Utah Department of Health over the order.

With fears that more jobs would soon be on the chopping block, restaurant owners said they need help.

“When business owners start to lose hope, it’s over,” McHenry said.

KSL TV asked the Governor’s Office if they had a response to the letter dozens of restaurants were now supporting, and has not been given a response.

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New Health Order Keeps Ban On Alcohol Sales After 10 p.m.