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Columbus City Council repeals curfew on bars and restaurants

Bar owner says don’t get too excited because it doesn’t change anything.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s been months and bars and restaurants say they’re getting no relief.

“Yeah, the whole time it’s been pretty confusing,” Scott Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth owns Threes Above High and Fours Above High, though he says due to the pandemic he had to close Fours to cut losses.

What’s confusing, he says, is the constant unknown.

In July, the city of Columbus voted to pass an ordinance that put in place a curfew that closed bars and restaurants at 10 p.m. Bar owners fought back, sued and won when a judge granted a temporary restraining order. Then, Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order banning alcohol sales after a certain time. This ruling, known as Rule 80, said no alcohol sales after 10 p.m. and consumption of alcohol must end by 11 p.m. Rule 80 did not prohibit businesses from being open, provided there were no on-premises alcohol sales.

“As you could imagine it’s pretty frustrating for us and I think I can speak for the majority of bar owners when we say we’ve done everything they’ve asked,” Ellsworth said.

Making things more confusing for Ellsworth, Columbus City Council voted Monday to pass legislation that repealed the bar and restaurant curfew. 

Basically, it allows bars and restaurants to stay open to sell food after 10 p.m. while still not being allowed to sell alcohol after 10 p.m.

Ellsworth says this move does nothing to help the struggling businesses that have been impacted by the executive order for the last two months.

“No, it doesn’t help anybody,” he said.

According to Mayor Andrew Ginther’s office when DeWine signed his executive order, the temporary restraining order was still in place. By repealing it the city will not have to go to any hearings to overturn the restraining order. It also admits this repeal will do nothing that’s not already being done, saying “patrons will not experience a change.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Ellsworth said. “It just seems like they’re trying to pander to somebody and I can’t quite put my finger on it.”