Tuesday, August 9, 2022

State tavern and bar organization files lawsuit against Cooper’s executive order in effort to reopen

(Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

NORTH CAROLINA — A lawsuit demanding a temporary restraining order has been filed against Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order by the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association in an effort to reopen bars as restaurants have been able to do already.

When Cooper announced his three-phase reopening plan bars were included on the list of businesses that would be permitted to reopen under phase two, but when Cooper announced phase two, things changed. Bars were not permitted to reopen, yet restaurants and breweries were — a baffling turn of events for bar owners.

On Thursday, the action was taken.

“The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association today filed a lawsuit on behalf of 185 businesses to have private bars included under the same reopening safety rules as restaurants, eating establishments, wineries, distilleries, breweries, and private clubs,” according a press release from the group.

“Despite our numerous requests, the governor’s office has offered no science or data showing that having a drink in a private bar is more dangerous than having a drink in a brewery bar, distillery bar, or even a restaurant bar,” Association President Zack Medford said.

Cooper has not yet announced when he plans on reopening bars, but it is worth noting that distilleries and breweries were originally not included in the phase two reopening but were added after dissent from the state’s craft brewing guild.

“NCBATA spoke with the governor’s office on June 3 to request a reopening date for private bars. ‘While there was an encouraging exchange of facts and ideas, we do not believe the governor is willing to consent to our request to reopen by June 12,’ the association’s government relations consultant, Jack Cozort said. “We have agreed to keep the lines of communication open.”

Despite a friendly conversation, the group says it was largely unproductive and further action needed to be taken in order to save businesses across the state.

“The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association seeks a temporary restraining order against Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order 141, in addition to a preliminary and permanent injunction. Under the order, all types of ABC Mixed Beverage permit holders are allowed to operate–with the exception of private bars. These small businesses have been closed for 78 consecutive days and have suffered severe losses while competitors have been open since May 22. Without immediate relief, these losses will only increase exponentially,” according to the press release.

“In addition to the suit, NCBATA is asking for donations to its legal fund. ‘We hope all bar owners across the state will pledge what they can to help us get their doors back open,” Medford said. “If we don’t find relief swiftly, some of us never will reopen at all.”

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