Restaurants, bars may now serve alcohol until 11 and close at midnight, per health order change

photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World File Photo

A local bartender pours a beer in this file photo from 2009.

Story updated at 4:10 p.m. Thursday

Douglas County establishments with a liquor license will soon be allowed to stay open later than before due to a modification of a local health order, according to the health department.

Starting Friday at 12:01 a.m., restaurants, bars and entertainment venues will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11 p.m. and close at midnight, according to an amended health order from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. Under the prior health order, which went into effect Sept. 4, establishments were required to cease alcohol sales at 9 p.m. and close their premises by 10 p.m.

Douglas County leaders agreed to extend the hours for establishments with a liquor license after monitoring the level of COVID-19 cases in the community since Sept. 4, a press release from the health department said.

“We believe we have seen good results in our work with local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues in offering them guidance and support on how to comply with the health orders and offer safe environments through social distancing and mask wearing,” health department director Dan Partridge said. “We appreciate the work of the Lawrence Restaurant Association members and establishment owners for their efforts and continuing dialogue on how to create environments that can help minimize risk for COVID-19 exposure and to help businesses.”

Emily Peterson, owner of Merchants Pub & Plate and one of the officers of the Lawrence Restaurant Association, said the health of Douglas County is the organization’s top priority, “and we appreciate being involved in the discussions so that we can collaborate on productive measures for safe socialization in our establishments.”

Similarly to the previous health order, establishments may still offer carryout or food delivery services after midnight, and restaurants without a liquor license are not required to close at midnight.

The public health order still keeps other major public health requirements in place, such as prohibiting mass gatherings of 45 people and requiring face masks.

Douglas County has reported 2,391 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, an increase of 51 cases since Wednesday.

The county has averaged about 18 new cases per day over the last 14 days, according to a 14-day moving average graph updated weekdays by the health department. The current average of 18 new cases per day is down from a high of 45 cases per day in late August and up from a recent low of nine cases per day in early August.

In Douglas County, 1,980 out of the 2,391 cases are inactive or beyond the infectious period, according to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. The number of active cases is 411, a decrease of 144 since Wednesday.

George Diepenbrock, spokesperson for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, said that due to the increase in cases a few weeks ago, they expected a large number of cases to become inactive around this time.

Four patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Thursday, two less than Wednesday.


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