House committee approves bill that would stop parishes from limiting alcohol sales

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Louisiana House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday morning that would prevent a parish from stopping businesses from selling alcohol. That law would be in effect until one year past the point of the end of the COVID-19 public emergency.

“This allows bars to operate without limit on their operation to try to allow them to use the extra hours to recoup money that they were not able to make during the closures,” Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Terrebonne and sponsor  of the bill, said.

This bill comes as many Louisianans grow frustrated by the state’s restrictions on bars and restaurants over the past several months. Multiple bar owners have sued the governor over these restrictions. 

Louisiana is in phase 3, which means restaurants can operate at 75 percent capacity and bars in parishes with percent-positive COVID-19 testing rate of less than five percent can open at 25 percent capacity indoors and 50 percent capacity outdoors. All alcohol consumption at any establishment must end at 10 p.m.

This bill is the latest of several proposed bills and resolutions from the Louisiana legislature, which is overwhelmingly Republican, that would remove COVID-19 restriction enforcement powers from the governor or municipalities.

In a press conference last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards said 27 of 40 parishes that qualify for reopening bars so far have done so. 

The bill would also keep parishes from limiting bars’ hours of operation.