Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposal to allow many County restaurants and bars to serve alcohol after 10 p.m. was approved by the Montgomery County Council on Oct. 1. The proposal, which County Executive Elrich made after consulting with County Health Officer Travis Gayles, updated the Executive Order regarding safety regulations during the continuing COVID-19 health crisis. Establishments can begin applying to be part of the late-night program immediately.County bars and restaurants were limited to serving alcohol to patrons on-site up to 10 p.m. under the County’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines in an attempt to limit late-night socializing. Early during the health crisis, when establishments were able to serve alcohol after 10 p.m., some became lax in enforcing safety guidelines. Guidelines prohibiting sales after 10 p.m. were implemented to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Many restaurants and bars can now apply for a Late-Night Alcohol Sales Program permit that would allow them to serve alcohol between 10 p.m. and midnight. A food service establishment that violates the rules can lose its Late-Night Alcohol Sales Program permit, have its alcohol license suspended and/or could be fined up to $20,000.
Businesses that receive a Late-Night Alcohol Sales Program permit will be subject to frequent and unscheduled inspections.
Permits will be available to food service establishments with no prior history of citations or closings due to coronavirus-related violations.
The late-night alcohol program could be suspended Countywide under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include having increases in the positivity rate in COVID-19 testing or in the number of COVID-19 cases.