Sunday alcohol sales to begin April 15

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sunday, April 15 will be the first day that local restaurants with alcoholic beverage licenses can serve drinks under a new city ordinance passed by the Bainbridge City Council at their Tuesday meeting.

The council unanimously approved amending the city’s alcohol ordinance to allow Sunday sales of alcohol on the premises of businesses which have are licensed to serve beer, wine or spirits. City voters had registered their support for amending the ordinance in a March 7 referendum.

The council followed a suggestion by City Manager Chris Hobby to have the amended ordinance’s effective date fall after Easter, which is this Sunday, April 8.

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Sunday sales of alcohol will only be allowed at restaurants or at bars which offer full food service; city voters defeated a referendum which would have allowed package sales of alcohol by businesses such as grocery and convenience stores.

Georgia law had previously prohibited Sunday alcohol sales by restaurants, except in cities with large populations. Per the 2011 state law which allowed local governments to decide whether or not to allow them, serving of alcoholic beverages will start at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday and can continue up until 12 a.m. Monday.

On Monday through Saturdays, both on-premises alcohol and package sales can be conducted from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following day. The amendments passed by the City Council Tuesday revert a previous version of the alcohol ordinance which had sales starting at 8 a.m.

Per the city’s alcohol ordinance, all drinks have to be taken off a restaurant or bar’s tables no later than 30 minutes after last call.

Other general prohibitions include “two-for-one” drink specials and similar promotions and any contests or promotions which are intended to increase the consumption of distilled spirits at the business. “Happy Hour” specials cannot offer alcoholic drinks at less than 50 percent of their normal cost and can only be conducted between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Businesses licensed for on-premises consumption are also not permitted to allow their customers to “brown bag,” or take their purchased drink off the premises.

Alcohol sales are still prohibited on Christmas Day, by state law. In years when New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, on-premises sales of alcohol will be allowed to end at 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Sunday alcohol sales currently only applies to businesses within city limits — Decatur County, Brinson, Climax and Attapulgus would have to hold their own referendums to allow Sunday sales.

According to the Decatur County Board of Elections, 659 Bainbridge voters voted “yes” on the Sunday alcohol by the drink referendum, while 650 voted “no.” In the Sunday package sales referendum, 691 voted “no” and 626 voted “yes.”