Clark County bar owner views citation for coronavirus violations as warning, will stop alcohol sales at 10 p.m.

A Clark County bar was one of six in the state to be cited over the weekend for selling alcohol after 10 p.m., a violation of a rule designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Layne Lounge —located in Park Layne, near New Carlisle― was issued an administrative citation for on-premises consumption Saturday night. The incident occurred after two agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) of the Ohio State Highway Patrol purchased beer there at 10:45 and 11:15 p.m., after the start of a curfew on alcohol sales.

The bar is one of six cases that occurred over the weekend that will go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission for potential penalties, which could include fines and/or suspension or revocation of liquor permits.

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However, Doodle McKee, who has co-owned the Layne Lounge for more than five years, said that he has not heard anything further from authorities regarding the citation.

He views it as a warning at this point and plans to resume current operating hours with an added emphasis of stopping the sale of alcohol at 10 p.m. and having patrons no longer consuming alcohol at 11 p.m.

McKee added that his staff were compliant Saturday night after the agents announced who they were and his bartenders proceeded to close tabs immediately after.

The Layne Lounge has been described by its owners as a small town bar were most of the patrons are locals. McKee said the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been hard on his business and staff.

The bar had temporarily closed after statewide measures were implemented in March to curb the spread of the virus. It reopened in May and has been steadily regaining business, McKee added.

However, he said he views the emergency rule prohibiting the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. as another hindrance to his business already hurting from the pandemic.

He said peak hours for them are usually after 11 p.m. and a loss of that business can impact the amount of tips his bartenders receive.

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The Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed the emergency rule late last month. It followed a request from Gov. Mike DeWine, who cited coronavirus outbreaks stemming from bars.

McKee said that his business has taken additional safety measures since reopening in May. That includes creating more seating at the bar’s outdoor patio, increasing cleaning efforts and asking patrons to wear masks when possible.

OIU Enforcement Commander Eric Wolf said in a recent statement that “the majority of establishments we visit are doing everything they can to provide a safe environment for their patrons.”

“Agents will continue to conduct compliance checks and take enforcement action when egregious violations are observed,” he added.

Another Clark County bar, Pat & Martha’s Tavern in Medway, was cited for for violating coronavirus related reopening policies in May.

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