A bill that would allow bars and restaurants to use parking lots, green space and even streets for social distancing for customers is now being considered by the Senate. But there’s a provision in the bill that didn’t get much attention till it was on the floor – a plan to extend the hours that bars can stay open.
The Ohio Mayors' Alliance supports the idea of expanded outdoor space for bars and restaurants - also known as Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, or DORAs. There are 28 DORAs allowed across Ohio now.
Spokesman Keary McCarthy testified for the bill because of the DORA provision. But he said his members are concerned about keeping people apart under a provision that would allow bars to stay open till 4am.
“That is only going to be harder the later it gets into the evening, to maintain good public health practices and social distancing.”
In most cases, that would extend bars' operations by about two hours, though some bars can stay open till 2:30am.
Representatives who voted against the bill say they’re also worried about the impact of later last call on police.
But supporters say not all bars will apply for the 4am permit, and local governments could refuse those applications.
The bill also allows liquor sales on Sunday, and could cost the state nearly $5.9 million in fees by eliminating 12,5000 Sunday sales permits.