Athens judge pauses ordinance that would have banned alcohol sales after 10 p.m.

Athens judge pauses ordinance that would have banned alcohol sales after 10 p.m.

ATHENS — A judge has paused an Athens ordinance that would have forced bars to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.

Athens bars and restaurants got a break late Friday afternoon. The judge ruled that the mayor and the attorney for the bars and restaurants that want to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. come back to court on August 6 and argue their respective cases.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston was in Athens, where residents said the ordinance would have had a negative impact on local businesses and the town’s culture.

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"It's definitely going to take a toll on the whole Athens culture, because a lot of college kids and adults like to come out and everything, and businesses are already taking a hit," Davina Potts said.

Athens restaurants and bars have hired attorney Mo Whiltshire to fight the lawsuit.

"Really, they are closing them at the time most of them open," Whiltshire said. "So you can call it and say you're not shutting them down, we're just changing when last call is, but you're essentially shutting the businesses down."

Whiltshire said he thinks the mayor and commissioners have gone too far.

"I'm sure their motives are good. I know these people. They mean well," Whiltshire said. "They are assuming authority for themselves that they don't have."

Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz said he knows the 'no alcohol after 10 p.m.' ordinance will have an impact on local businesses, but said, it's nearly impossible to contact-trace for the coronavirus in a bar setting.

"At the core of my responsibility as an elected policy-maker is to keep people healthy and safe," Girtz said.

The judge’s injunction is only temporary. He makes his final ruling at the August 6 hearing.

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