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Businesses brace for losses as COVID-19 'alcohol curfew' takes effect

Mecklenburg County Public Health and CMPD intend to outline a plan to consistently enforce alcohol restrictions during the pandemic.

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Restaurants and bottle shop owners are bracing for challenging times as Governor Roy Cooper's (D) "alcohol curfew" takes effect this weekend.

Gov. Cooper's order forbids establishments from serving alcohol between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. as part of an effort to lower the state's COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper issues a state-wide alcohol curfew

Case Warnemunde owns Old Town Public House in downtown Cornelius, and because it's a bottle shop, it's technically considered a retailer, which allows it to be open.

"We were just starting to pick up a little bit here. [I] think people are more comfortable with coming out," Warnemunde said. "Now we're definitely heading in the opposite direction, which hurts."

While Mecklenburg County launched its own alcohol curfew in late July, Cornelius leaders didn't sign on to it.

Now, Warnemunde and other business owners must follow the state order.

"It's challenging," he said. "We need people in here to sustain our business, to make our employees money since they mainly make money off of tips."

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said she's working on a plan with CMPD and other law enforcement agencies on how COVID-19 alcohol restrictions should be consistently enforced.

"We really want to do what we can to encourage compliance rather than issuing citations and closing places now," Harris said. "The first step will likely be education."

She expects to announce details of the plan this coming week.

Meanwhile, Warnemunde will soon be opening an outdoor patio, which he hopes will cover some of the losses.

He also credited the Cornelius community for supporting small businesses.

"We're all in it together though so we're going to make it through," Warnemunde said. "But yeah, it's challenging times."