Auburn residents who like to wind down the day with an adult beverage at their favorite watering hole will have to get their orders in early as the Alabama Beverage Control Board set an 11 p.m. last call for alcohol at bars and restaurants in response to the surging Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
The ABC Board, which passed the emergency order at a special-called meeting on Monday, set 11 p.m. as the time for last call at bars and restaurants, and all drinks must be out of hand by 11:30 p.m. The rule went into effect on Monday, but won't be enforced until Saturday.
The move comes as Alabama has seen its cases of Covid-19 climb dramatically, with 30 percent of its nearly 80,000 confirmed cases coming in the past two weeks.
"We are very sensitive to the economic impact this rule will have," said ABC Board Chairman Alan Spencer. "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."
Spencer added that the rule will only be in effect for a "very short duration" and that the board will lift the restriction as soon as possible. The rule has a shelf life of 120 days but can be rescinded by the board at any time.
The order was issued, in part, to stave off another shutdown of bars and restaurants, in an attempt to limit the transmission of Covid-19, which the ABC says might be increased by people who are drinking because they are less likely to abide by the social distancing and mask guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Our hope is that reduced hours of alcohol service will decrease social gatherings and the transmission of Covid-19," said ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson. "Our number one goal is to protect the public and our license holders. We believe this emergency order will reduce the exposure to and spread of Covid-19."
Those in violation of the order risk the suspension of their alcohol licenses.