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Arkansas bars sue Gov., health department over COVID-19 regulations

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs that sell alcohol in Arkansas have had to close at 11 p.m. since November due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Several Arkansas bar owners have filed a lawsuit against Governor Asa Hutchinson, Dr. Jose Romero with the Arkansas Department of Health, and Director of Alcohol Beverage Control Doralee Chandler over COVID-19 regulations forcing bars and restaurants to close early. 

On Nov. 19, 2020, State Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero issued a directive that bars had to close at 11 p.m. This decision came after Gov. Hutchinson stated in a press conference that decisions to restrict businesses should be "data-driven." The state extended the 11 p.m. directive until Feb. 3, 2021. 

The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County by attorney Gary Barnett and B.C. Pickett. Most of the bars are located on or near Dickson Street in Fayetteville. Bars in Fayetteville were allowed to stay open until 2:00 a.m. before COVID-19 restrictions were set in place. 

The lawsuit states that the bars and restaurants will "suffer irreparable harm if the orders continue to be enforced." It also claims that the directive applied to bars, restaurants and nightclubs does not contain any factual, data driver or other support to show how forcing the businesses to close early will have any effect on stopping the spread of COVID-19.  

The following bars are listed on the lawsuit:

  • Stir of Fayetteville
  • Shotz
  • Yee-Hawg
  • The Piano Bar
  • Cannibal & Craft
  • Sideways
  • Pinpoint
  • Kingfish
  • C4 Night club and Lounge
  • Maxines Taproom
  • Ryleighs
  • Boar's Nest BBQ
  • On the Mark
  • Van and Company
  • Smoke & Barrell
  • Crossroads Tavern
  • Bugsy's
  • The Amendment
  • Buster Bellys
  • Los Bobos
  • West End

You can read the full lawsuit below. 

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