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10 p.m. last-call rule approved by state liquor board; bar owners upset

Last call for drinks will move to 10 p.m. at Ohio bars and restaurants under an emergency rule approved Friday by the Liquor Control Commission.

The new rule cleared the commission on a 3-0 vote.

The rule is designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but bar owners said it’ll devastate an industry that has already suffered blows during the pandemic.

>> RELATED: DeWine seeks to ban alcohol sales at bars, restaurants after 10 p.m.

Attorney Ed Hastie, who represents liquor permit holders, said, “Clients are going to be ruined by this.”

He told the commission that enforcement actions should be taken against the small number of bars and restaurants that are ignoring rules.

“We do not need to punish a whole industry for the actions of a few,” he said.

Bar owners and employees told the commission that their businesses are already operating well below capacity and cutting off liquor sales at 10 p.m. will severely curtail revenues.

>> New guidelines for Ohio gatherings: What they mean

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday asked the commission to hold an emergency meeting to consider changing last call to 10 p.m. and requiring consumption to be finished by 11 p.m.

The governor ordered bars and restaurants closed March 15 and allowed reopening in mid-May, with restrictions such as social distancing.