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Arizona Bars Forced to Close ... Again

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

It sure feels like ground hog day.

As of 8:00 pm last night (Monday, June 29, 2020) "Bars" were ordered to limit their services to pick up, curbside and delivery services for the next 30 days. As I always am looking through my rose-colored glasses, July in Maricopa County is typically the worst revenue generating month of the year. I guess what I am trying to say is at least we didn’t let this go on much longer and then all businesses suffered in the fall season which is normally the 2nd best revenue generating season (second only to the Spring which we already lost).

For bars outside of Maricopa County, specifically in Prescot Valley, this coming weekend was to be their ‘super bowl’ weekend with the world’s oldest rodeo, Prescott Frontier Days taking place for its 133rd year (albeit only allowing 25% of their normal capacity). The big headliner of the rodeo is the really the nightly gatherings at Matt’s Longhorn Saloon that will now not be part of the rodeo celebration for the first time in over 55 years. The parade has also been cancelled.

What is the difference between a BAR or a TAVERN or GRILL or TAP HOUSE? Normally it is the type of license they hold. In today’s definition as it relates to the orders set by Governor Ducey and better explained by Jared Repinski from Arizona Alcohol Traffic & Firearms, “The simplest interpretation of this verbiage is any liquor licensed business whose primary function or use is the sale of alcohol is considered a "Bar" and therefore must limit operations for 30 days. That said, this also means if the business has a Series 06 or 07 license but achieves at least fifty-percent (50%) of its revenue through food sales than the executive order does not apply.” Yes that really does read FIFTY PERCENT even when a Restaurant license Series 12 only has a requirement of 40% food. Who has which license can be found right here at Maricopa County License to Sell Liquor.

In all the previous executive orders a "warning" has been required which allows a liquor licensed business to correct the situation before a violation was assessed - this is NOT the case this time around. Repinski goes on to point out, "Notwithstanding any other law or executive order, this executive order allows law enforcement and any regulatory agency, pursuant to their regulatory authority, to take immediate enforcement action against any business that fails to follow this executive order...and including summary suspension for any license the business holds".

These are no longer suggestions or recommendations, this is not gray or indecisive, it states the types of businesses effected and spells out immediate consequences. Are the numbers that a bar would generate in the month of July worth having a suspended license for many more months if caught? Not hardly.

As a side note, Bar license holders that have a primary function or use is something else other than food or alcohol (hotel, bowling or golf, etc...) then this order also does not affect their business.

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