A growing case for allowing bars to open on Sunday?

March 19, 2014 10:30 am

by Bill Dawers · 10 comments

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.

northside101 March 19, 2014 at 11:05 am

Good piece, Bill. By the way, can anyone explain to me the 1230 pm start for Sunday alcohol sales here in Georgia? Is it somehow a vice to buy it at 12:29? Ironic that the liturgical churches (such as Anglican/Episcopal, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) use wine at their weekly Eucharists (Mass. communion service, whatever the title may be), yet traditionally this state has viewed alcohol on Sunday as perhaps the 8th deadly sin…..

Ellynn March 19, 2014 at 11:53 am

Note the churches not listed, and you have your answer…

I will say on the Sundays we had our church festivals when I was growing up back in Wisconsin, the beer tent – located in the church parking lot by the doros leading into the kitchens (and the coolers) of the cathoilc school, did not start serving until the start of the last hymn of the last mass of the day.

saltycracker March 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Sad that you missed out on the time honored, tax free, Georgia tradition of sippin’ the best ‘shine or homemade wine behind the tent, produced by a highly regarded parishioner…..

Ellynn March 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Please… My grandmother was the winemaker for the Daughter of Isabella planning night. My great uncle was the maker of the ‘special beer’ the polka band keep in the tuba case.

Plus Wisconsin has no state tax on any of their stuff, and unlike Georgia, you can walk out of a micro brew with up to 24 bottles of beer. I can by my favorate wine Fish Tale Dock right at the winery. No middle man.

Harry March 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Delta is ready when you are.

Ellynn March 20, 2014 at 2:22 am

Of course they are Harry, and I make many trips back and forth every year. I have the Skymiles to prove it…

John Vestal March 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

@richsullivan discussing the topic of 12:30 Sunday sales/pour restriction now on 640WGST

griftdrift March 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

It’s so no one can beat the Baptists to the liquor store.

Doug Deal March 19, 2014 at 4:04 pm

There is seriously something wrong with us if we think it is our business what people drink on Sunday and where they drink it, if that beverage and location is open in Saturday or any other day or holiday.

xdog March 19, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Night or day.

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