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.
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 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.
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.