Late night alcohol sale ban starts while bar owners fear future

VIDEO: Alcohol sales end at 11 p.m. tonight

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A ban on alcohol sales past 11 starts in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus in South Carolina, especially among young adults.

Tonight, taps are turning off across the state to adhere to Governor McMaster's new order. But for business owners, many say this could be yet another burden drying up business.

“Just one hit after another after another after another,” Owner of Uptown Social, Keith Benjamin said. “The 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. is massive for us. It probably accounts for more than 75% of our business.”

Restaurant owners say they’ve had to adapt during the pandemic, but rising cases create fears of further restrictions.

“It changes every week, you know, whether you’re having outdoor dining to partial dining to know the 11 o’clock alcohol cut off,” Southside 17 Bar owner Doug Allison said. “If it keeps up who knows what’s gonna happen I mean we really don’t know, I’m a little worried, I am.”

The president of the Lowcountry hospitality association, John Keener, said although the new restriction strain already struggling businesses, the state has to control the rising COVID-19 cases to prevent even further economic degradation.

"The Rising cases has really hurt us more than anything right now," Keener said. "Mainly due to the rising numbers in Charleston and people read those rising numbers and they stay away."

Police do tell me they are ready to enforce the governor's order, first giving a warning, but any businesses that continuously break the new rule risk a suspension of their license. But for now, bar owners like Benjamin and Allison say they plan to fully comply with the order.

“It was time for us to adapt once again and make sure that we’re ready once that 11 PM curfew gets lifted will be ready to go till 2 AM once again which we desperately need at Uptown Social,” Benjamin said.

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