Bars, restaurants now able to serve alcohol past 11pm after Gov. McMaster lifts ‘Last Call’ restriction

COLUMBIA (WOLO): Restaurants and bars have been given the ‘okay’ to resume normal alcohol sales effective today, Monday, March 1st. Governor McMaster made the announcement Friday, officially lifting the ‘Last Call’ order in South Carolina that’s been in effect since last July.

Tin Roof General Manager Chris Lehman says while the restriction slowed them down, like most bars, they adapted to remain profitable. 

We do see the earlier closings as kind of a blessing because it taught us to be more versatile, so hopefully we’ll be able to maintain the same early crowd we’ve been seeing, while still continuing to have the late night success,” said Lehman. 

Lehman says he’s excited for the small return to normalcy. They’ll now stay open until 2 a.m.

“Hopefully we don’t see cases spike as we’re able to stay open late because the last thing any of us want is to have to go back afterward.”

Bar patron, Phillip Mcfalls, says he agrees. While he’s happy the restriction has been lifted, he encourages other to think about their neighbors. “We’re not past the point where we can stop being cautious. We have to still take precautions. Wear a mask, keep your distance; just try to stay safe, think about others,” Mcfalls said. 

The return to late night hours d oesn’t mean those safety measures won’t be enforced. Columbia Fire issued 60 $100 mask violations this past weekend. Chief Aubrey Jenkins says he’s hopeful the extended hours could actually have a positive effect on crowding.

I’m hoping that by extending it that people will more or less pace themselves, instead of everybody coming out early. Maybe some will come early, some will come mid-way, some will come late.,” said Chief Jenkins. 

Now with the lifted restriction, bar-goers say it’s time for South Carolinians to make their own decisions.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go out. You go to a grocery store, you can catch COVID there. If you’re gonna catch COVID, you’re gonna catch COVID. If you need to go out to socialize, I think it’s great because mental illness is a real thing,” said bar patron Morgan Smith. 

“People are intelligent enough to take that risk on their own. I trust that people will make the right decisions.We got to start trusting people at some point,” Mcfalls said. 

Also in effect today, South Carolina Department of Commerce approval for events involving more than 250 people will no longer be required. South Carolinians are still strongly encouraged to take appropriate safety precautions, including practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings when social distancing is not possible.

 

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