Meck County working on plan to ban late-night alcohol sales at restaurants

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Officials are drafting a resolution that will ban alcohol sales after 10 p.m. at restaurants across Mecklenburg County.

The ban would impact Charlotte, Davidson, Matthews, Mint Hill and the unincorporated parts of Mecklenburg County. Cornelius, Huntersville and Pineville have decided not to join the other cities in the county, so the ban will not apply to those areas, according to County Manager Dena Diorio.

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County leaders have not said when the ban will go into effect but did say that it will remain in place as long as the state remains in Phase 2, which is set to end on Aug. 7.

Tavern's owner Bill Acquario said he understands the reason for the alcohol sale curfew but being a restaurant owner hasn't been easy over the last several months.

“It’s just another restriction we have to deal with, and we’re already under a lot of restrictions,” Acquario said.

He said to ensure crowds are social distancing and following restrictions usually gets more difficult the later it gets.

“I have enough security and staff on here to manage it as best as I can, but after 10 p.m. is typically when we get busy and it’s typically the younger folks out at that time,” Acquario said.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said she would sign a proclamation banning late-night boozing at restaurants, and CDC Director Robert Redfield said he is a strong advocate of closing bars.

“I do think it is to realize that certain businesses have the tendency to facilitate irresponsible behavior such as bars that stay open late, I think at this point in time in the pandemic that they need to be closed,” he said.

During the weekend, large crowds of people not wearing masks and barely social distancing have been spotted in and around uptown.

Many of the places where people are flocking aren’t considered bars, so they’re allowed to be open under certain rules.

Crowds like the ones seen at Ink N Ivy in uptown and Explicit Bistro & Lounge at the AvidXchange Music Factory could be why the county is looking into forcing similar nightlife establishments to close to help curb COVID-19.

Explicit is essentially a nightclub but for it be open, it must fall into the state’s definition of a restaurant, which is an establishment whose receipts make up 30% of sales.

Earlier this month, Orange County, which includes Chapel Hill, issued a similar rule stating businesses won’t be able to sell alcohol after 10 p.m and restaurants will also have to close dining rooms at the same time.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued a “last call” order Friday, banning the sale of alcohol at South Carolina bars and restaurants after 11 p.m.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio sent the following email in regards to late night alcohol ban:

Good Morning,

The Policy Group has decided to move forward with the recommendation to prohibit alcohol sales after 10:00 PM. The County, City and Towns of Davidson, Matthews and Mint Hill will all sign in support. As of now, Cornelius, Huntersville and Pineville have decided not to sign on. We are currently drafting the language that will be signed by the BOCC Chair and the respective Mayors. The start date of the change is dependent on how quickly we can agree on the language and give proper notice to the impacted establishments. The group has agreed that the restrictions will remain in place as long as the State remains in Phase 2 which for now runs until August 7.