SALT LAKE CITY — Despite anger from Utah bar owners, the 10 p.m. alcohol curfew will remain in place for high transmission areas in the state like Salt Lake County and surrounding areas.
The Utah Department of Health released a new public health order Tuesday with little change from previous restrictions.
Masks must continue to be worn and residents must keep six feet of physical distance between each other. People must continue wearing masks and socially distance at social events in high and moderate transmission areas.
However, the biggest change bar owners were hoping for did not happen. In the new health order, alcohol is still banned from being sold after 10 p.m. in high transmission areas, under which most Utah counties currently find themselves in.
Last week, owners of 25 bars in the Salt Lake area sent a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert asking him to consider lifting the ban of alcohol sales, claiming it did little to slow the spread and was hurting their business.
“The 10 p.m. alcohol cut off has therefore effectively closed these 'late bars' to the public, and has made it virtually impossible for the rest of the bar industry in high transmission areas to continue to employ their wait staff, security professionals, managers, and bartenders,” the letter reads.
At the time, a spokesperson with Herbert's office said the governor had not read the letter.
Now that the pleas of bar owners have not been heard, they will now go forward with a planned lawsuit.
"The worst part is we have been begging for over 3 weeks to have some communication with the Health Department and the Governor to try and come up with a good solution for all," said Kirk Bengtzen, owner of Twist Bar. "However, they clearly do not care of the impact on so many families by not even acknowledging our concerns. As soon as my attorney’s finish getting all of the additional Bars/Restaurant’s information that just joined us, the lawsuit will be filed."
"So sad it has come to this."
One small change in the health order will allow bars in moderate transmission areas to serve alcohol after 10 p.m. and allow 75 percent of legal capacity.
Other restrictions involving participation in high school athletics and extracurricular activities will remain, allowing only those who have been tested for COVID-19 in the previous two weeks.