State Cracks Down On Cleveland-Area Bars for Violating Pandemic Rules

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Four Cleveland-area bars and restaurants were cited for violating Ohio health orders early Saturday morning as enforcement of a new state curfew on liquor sales went into effect.

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission approved a proposal from Gov. Mike DeWine for a 10 p.m. cut-off of liquor sales starting Friday in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Agents from the Ohio Highway Patrol's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cracked down on the local establishments after receiving complaints of “blatant violations” of state health rules, according to an OIU news release.

OIU agents, plain clothes officers who investigate liquor law violations, observed bar staff at A Touch of Italy in Shaker Heights “continuing to pour and serve alcoholic beverages” after midnight. Shaker Heights Police had issued a warning to the on-duty manager of the bar sometime after 11 p.m., according to the OIU, but police officers did not believe the manager would comply and contacted OIU agents.

Agents arrived after 12:45 a.m. Saturday and "observed approximately 50 people packed into a confined area in and around the bar."

The release states that the Captiv8 Potato Bar in Cleveland was cited for disorderly activity and violation of the liquor sales curfew. OIU agents and Cleveland Police responded after a complaint at midnight. The front door was locked, but agents and officers saw many people inside and obverved them leaving through a back door, according to the release.

OIU agents reported that an on-duty manager at Secrets, Cleveland, admitted to alcoholic beverage sales up until 1:45 a.m. Saturday morning. Cleveland Police had responded to a disturbance at the bar eariler and were met there at 2 a.m. by state investigators. 

Floods Restaurant in Warrensville Heights was cited for “egregious violations” of patron capacity and social distancing rules. State investigators and officers with the Warrensville Heights Police Department visited the bar to issue a citation for an alleged previous infraction, operating on July 24th with a crowd that far exceeded the permitted capacity. When investigators arrived Friday, they found 75 patrons "standing, seated in close groups or at the bar and moving freely about the premises." The bar was cited for disorderly activity for both July 24th and July 31st.

The cases will go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission and establishments could face potential penalties ranging from fines to revocation of liquor permits. 

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