The Mayor and Commission held a Special Called Session on Friday, August 14 at 8:15 a.m. to approve a settlement with plaintiffs related to the recent adoptions of a mask ordinance requirement for public and commercial spaces and an ordinance changing the hours of alcohol sales and closing times for retail by the drink licensees. With the support of Western Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Eric Norris, the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) and plaintiffs negotiated this settlement.
The Athens-Clarke County mask ordinance requiring masks in public places and commercial establishments will remain in place in full force as adopted on August 4, 2020.
Last call for by the drink retail establishments will be moved from 2:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., while bars must be cleared by midnight. The ordinance that changes hours for by the drink retail service will remain in effect until five days after the statewide judicial emergency ends.
To assist bars in dealing with their projected loss of revenue resulting from the early closing, ACCGov will maintain reduced alcohol license fees for bars for 2021 and 2022 and will also make certain concessions on penalties and interest for excise taxes for bars. Both sides had confidence in their legal position in the upcoming hearing, but both sides believe this is a reasonable settlement to protect public safety and maintain the viability of businesses and the protection of their employees in physical and economic terms.