Many Savannah bars were open this past Sunday. The world didn’t end. Lightning didn’t strike either (although some thunder might have rumbled around sunset).
The AP’s coverage of the peculiar issue was widely published, even in Seattle. From the AP:
Gov. Nathan Deal, a teetotaler who’s previously OKed relaxing Sunday liquor laws as long as local governments get the final say, signed Thursday a waiver allowing Savannah bars to open from 12:30 p.m. until midnight on Sundays that fall on or adjacent to St. Patrick’s Day — specifically between March 16 and 18. City councilman approved a corresponding local ordinance weeks in advance.
So it’s a pretty limited new policy.
In 2015, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday, so the previous Sunday would be the 15th. That means that bars won’t be open, but restaurants with bars can be, as always, and Savannah liquor stores and other outlets will of course be allowed to open for package sales. And there was a further limitation this year: bars were forced to close at midnight on Sunday, but restaurants and so-called “hybrids” (restaurants that in effect change their operation to bars late at night) were allowed to stay open till their usual times.
Sen. Lester Jackson originally proposed a bill that would allow bars to be open on Sunday of any holiday weekend, but that bill failed by a single vote. Despite the uphill climb, several members of Savannah’s City Council seem committed to continuing the push to give Savannah bars the right to be open on Sundays year-round.
Forcing bars to close on Sundays obviously hurts sales and hurts tourism. A number of Savannah bars are also key music venues, so some touring acts looking for Sunday gigs simply skip over the city. Jacksonville is just a couple of hours away.
If we’re serious about giving citizens the right to make rational choices and about leveling the playing field for businesses that serve alcohol, it might be time to get rid of this vestige of the old blue laws.