I learned first from 40/29 of a lawsuit filed Thursday by several Fayetteville bar owners challenging the state directive that closes businesses selling alcohol at 11 p.m.

Here’s the lawsuit, which was assigned to Judge Wendell Griffen.

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It seeks an injunction by more than a dozen Fayetteville bars, including such venerable spots as Maxine’s Taproom, against the Health Department directive, approved by Governor Hutchinson and enforced by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

The plaintiffs:

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The businesses say they are being irreparably harmed by the directive. They also use the governor’s words against him. He’s been saying that business restrictions must be “data-driven.” But he’s said repeatedly (and data he’s produced is used in the lawsuit) that there’s no evidence that bar and restaurant activity has contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases. He has declined to further restrict the regulations on reduced capacity and early closing. For his part, defendant Health Director Jose Romero had to struggle to answer a recent question about the purpose of the 11 p.m. curfew on drink sales. He seemed to say that continuing alcohol consumption could lead to unsafe behavior.

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The suit says the “supermajority” of bar business occurs after 10:30 p.m. and Hutchinson and Romero used the “most restrictive limits” to regulate their business, without regulating hours of any other business.

Bar owners told 40/29 they thought they were being “picked on.”

No hearings are currently set on the complaint.

 

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