John NealAugust 3, 2020 

All Ohio bars and restaurants are ordered to cease the sale of alcoholic beverages by 10 p.m. each night pursuant to an emergency adoption of the state’s Liquor Control Commission ruling signed into order by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. The order is in response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio. The proposal was first announced by DeWine, promulgated by the Liquor Control Commission, and then signed as an executive order. Under the new order, establishments are mandated to stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m., and patrons must finish their drinks by 11 p.m. However, customers may continue to order food until the establishment’s closing time.

The new rule also expands the number of to-go alcoholic drinks from two to three, if purchased with a meal.

DeWine pushed for the 10 p.m. cutoff, citing reports from the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU), which enforces liquor laws statewide, of multiple instances of overpopulated patios and overflowing dance floors in contravention of existing orders.

Many restaurateurs and bar owners alike have opposed the new rule. Some have referred to the mandate as a death sentence after experiencing a prolonged state of slow business and closures due to the ongoing pandemic. Some have called on DeWine to prove that bars are a substantial cause of spreading the illness by releasing data that proves so.

The new rule remains in effect for 120 days from the date that the order went into effect (July 31, 2020), or until rescinded by the Liquor Control Commission.

If you have additional questions regarding the recommended practices of Ohio restaurants and bars, please reach out to us here. We are happy to help.

John N. Neal is head of the Walter | Haverfield Hospitality and Liquor Control team. He can be reached at jneal@walterhav.com or at 216-619-7866.