New public health order requires establishments to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m.
photo by: Kevin Anderson/Journal-World File Photo
Story updated at 5:51 p.m. Thursday:
All Douglas County establishments that have liquor licenses will soon be required to stop serving alcohol after 9 p.m., according to an order from Douglas County’s health officer, Dr. Thomas Marcellino.
The order, which goes into effect Friday at 12:01 a.m., will also require establishments with a liquor license to close their premises no later than 10 p.m. Only carryout and food delivery services will be allowed after that time. Restaurants without a liquor license will not be required to close at 10 p.m., the order states.
Marcellino’s health order also keeps Douglas County in Phase 3 of the Smart and Safe Reopening Douglas County plan.
“We believe our community has seen the effectiveness of public health orders that require masks and limit interactions in environments where risk for transmission of the virus is greatest,” Marcellino said in the release. “This updated order is to help businesses and the public by providing clarity on how to host and act in these environments in a smart and safe way.”
A news release from Douglas County’s Education Unified Command states that the new order was issued in part because an earlier public health order on bars was unclear. That order, which was intended to close bars in Douglas County, was issued in early July, but recently “leaders acknowledged some ambiguity regarding definitions in the order and seeing behaviors that increased risk for exposure to COVID-19 in establishments where alcohol was consumed,” the release states.
Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director Dan Partridge told the Journal-World in August that the health department was “working to find a better process to consistently enforce the bar-closure order across Douglas County.” The Journal-World reported at that time that some bars in Lawrence had remained open following the July 3 public health order.
The new public health order states that:
• Carryout, curbside and delivery services may continue past 10 p.m., but only for food, not alcohol.
• Restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that serve alcohol must have patrons seated at tables with no more than 10 people per table, and social distancing between tables and different parties must be followed.
• Except for carryout services, no patrons may congregate or be served food or drink at a bar or counter.
• All patrons must be seated at all times except when entering or exiting the facility or using a restroom.
• Face masks must be worn by anyone not seated at a table.
• Entertainment venues have an occupancy limit of 100 people, and social distancing and face mask mandates must be enforced.
• Dance floors must be closed but can be repurposed for table seating
Marcellino said in the release that the intent of the order is clear, and that all establishments must follow Kansas Department of Health and Environment protocols and the public health order.
“Any restaurant, bar or entertainment venue found to be violating these protocols, including allowing customers to be seated at tables not six feet apart, or allowing customers to stand or gather in a location other than a table — including at a bar in the restaurant — is subject to be closed,” he said.
Violations of a public health order can carry a civil penalty of up to $2,500.