Extended weekend drinking hours in Orlando two votes away

Extended weekend drinking hours in Orlando two votes away

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

The Orlando City Council on Monday will take the first of two votes on a proposal to extend weekend drinking hours from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., but the deal comes with a lot of strings for bar owners. 

Orlando Downtown Development Board Executive Director Thomas Chatmon tells FOX 35 that the changes should make downtown a safer and better place.

"Certainly, public safety is always government's first priority, so anything and everything we do considers public safety first."

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The biggest change for bars downtown will be that people under 21 will no longer be able to get into clubs after 10 p.m.  The exceptions will be for live music venues that can put more than 1,100 people in the building at a time, and have a host of other amenities that would qualify them as a "live music venue." 

Chatmon says making downtown 21-and-up should cut down on many problems, especially underage drinking.

"If you're not allowed in the establishment, then there's a much lower probability that we will have underage drinking and some of the behavior that can accompany underage drinking."

Bars will also be required to have a special license to serve alcohol after midnight, that will cost $500 or less.  Then, they will be required to renew the license each year for $100 or less.  They will also have to electronically scan a driver's license before a patron can enter the bar.

When the proposal was first rolled out, a lot of bar owners pushed back. Chatmon says they did not change anything since that push back, and will not before the two votes it will take to make this the law.

"We won't attempt to smooth anything over. We have had 13 months of a process that's had absolute integrity.  It's been transparent. It's been inclusive. It's been candid. It's been exhaustive."

The ordinance will only apply to a special section of downtown, meaning the area could have a substantial advantage over other bars in the city, since they will be able to serve alcohol an hour later on the weekends.

 

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