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Three Steps for Bars + Restaurants to Protect their Licenses/Permits during Re-Opening

Smart Summary

  • Connect with your legal team before implementing your social distancing and re-opening strategies.
  • Consult with state and local regulatory agencies before implementing that strategy.
  • Contact your lawyers immediately if you receive a warning or citation to prepare a response.

With Memorial Day in the rear-view mirror, it’s starting to feel like summer. And with the stay-at-home order lifted and the nice weather upon us, many Ohioans will be eager to dine-in at their favorite restaurants and enjoy a nice drink on a patio at their favorite bar. With that said, bars and restaurants are still adapting to the new normal and following state guidelines, while allowing customers to take part in their favorite activities. Recent events have shown that businesses are still learning how to navigate the remaining mandatory regulations, which include:

  • checking employees daily for symptoms;
  • requiring employees to wear face masks (with a few exceptions);
  • separating tables by either 6 feet or physical barriers;
  • closing self-serve areas, such as buffets; and
  • closing common areas, such as dance floors, video games, pinball machines, and pool tables.

Businesses are faced with striking a delicate balance between operating a business and remaining compliant with government regulations. Introducing COVID-19 regulations into the equation has increased the complexity of this dynamic. While businesses generally want to remain in compliance, we’ve already seen well-intentioned measures spiral out of control without a moment’s notice. Such a misstep can result in negative publicity, lost business, and even revocation of a license/permit.

Steps to Protect Your License/Permit or Ability to Conduct Business

  1. Connect with your legal team when developing your preliminary strategy before implementing it at your business.
  2. Engage local and state regulatory agencies before implementing the strategy, too. This will give you insight on what other businesses are doing and help mitigate enforcement, if any, later on.
  3. Contact your legal team immediately if you receive a warning or citation, as both may require a formal response from your business.

David Ingram is a lawyer and business advisor at Kegler Brown working with bars and restaurants on their re-opening strategies with an eye toward regulatory compliance. He can be reached at [email protected] or (614) 462-5487.

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