Ohio legalizes earlier Sunday liquor buying

Partiers can reach for a Bloody Mary to cure their Sunday morning hangovers two hours earlier than usual after recent legislation permitted businesses to sell liquor as early as 11 a.m.

On Oct. 18, businesses that are licensed to sell wine and spirits on Sundays were able to start selling liquor at 11 a.m. instead of 1 p.m., said Matt Mullins, spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

State officials passed the legislation in July as part of Ohio's state budget bill, he said. He added that a local-option vote in individual towns could bump that time up to as early as 10 a.m.

November's ballot will give voters the option to choose if the East State Street Walmart should sell liquor at 10 a.m. on Sundays, according to the Athens County Board of Elections. Members of the Ohio Restaurant Association, which represents many restaurants with liquor permits, support the new law, said Richard Mason, the association's director of government affairs.

He added that the bill is beneficial to most restaurants because restaurants now can serve wine and liquor at lunchtime.

What this new law has created is good for us because on Sundays people would be waiting in line to get their Bloody Marys and our bartenders would be slammed at 1 p.m.

said Sarah Slater, food coordinator for Casa Nueva. It has created happier bartenders because now the afternoon rush is spread out evenly.

Laws restricting the sale of alcohol on Sundays date back to the country's puritanical roots with the establishment of the Blue Laws, Mullins said. Such laws not only prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays but also retail sales.

Following the repeal of prohibition, government officials allowed businesses to sell beer with low alcohol content on Sundays in 1933, Mullins said. Officials began issuing permits to sell liquor on Sundays in 1969, he added.

But it was not until 2004 that officials in Ohio passed legislation to permit Sunday liquor sales, making it the 31st state to do so, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Prohibition of Sunday liquor sales goes back to the Blue Laws many years ago when most retail sales were illegal on Sundays

Mason said. But the world has changed since then; we're busier people now.
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Laura Service

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