A judge denied a restraining order Wednesday that would grant Ohio bars and restaurants the ability to sell liquor past 10 p.m.
The decision follows legal action taken by local bar and restaurant owners Tuesday through the firm of attorney Ed Hastie. Gov. Mike DeWine announced an emergency rule that would require bars and restaurants to halt liquor sales at 10 p.m. in a press conference Thursday. This rule was approved by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission and signed into effect by DeWine Friday.
Judge Kim Brown ruled that it was the state’s right to restrict the sale of alcohol due to liquor sales being under the state’s control and that there was no proof that the emergency rule was unconstitutional.
Scott Ellsworth, owner of Threes Above High and Fours on High, said he respects the court’s decision, though he is not happy with the results. He said he believes that many bars and restaurants will go under as a result of the curfew.
“I don’t think people understand the severity of cutting out a time frame where you’re making 80 to 90 percent of your business,” Ellsworth said. “There’s no bailout; there’s no help. The help is ‘Go take on more crippling debt.’ To me, that’s not what your government is supposed to do for you.”
These sentiments are being felt by many campus-area bars. Oldfield’s North Fourth Tavern’s Twitter account posted a tweet following the decision.
“We can weather this storm. Many others cannot. This will be the end of the bar and restaurant industry as you know it. Support Local Everything,” the tweet reads.
In his press conference, DeWine said he was “mindful of the economic impact” that the 10 p.m. cutoff would have on the bars but that the measure was necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Attorney General Dave Yost showed his disapproval of the lawsuit filed by bar and restaurant owners in a statement.
“This crisis is real. It is deadly. And, because of people who place their own financial gain above the lives of their brethren, it is getting worse,” Yost said.
Ellsworth said he believed that Yost’s statement was made to “make an industry look bad.” He said the lawsuit was pursued in order to help keep small businesses open and be a voice for businesses he felt had none.
“We haven’t made money in 140-something days. This is just about keeping our business open, keeping the doors open. And that’s kind of what the fight was about,” Ellsworth said.
Correction: A previous version of this story misnamed Oldfield’s. It has since been corrected.