ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - A new rule for South Carolina businesses that serve alcohol will begin Saturday night.
It is called Governor Henry McMaster's "Last Call Executive Order."
Beginning Saturday, bars and restaurants are required to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m.
While some restaurants and bars in the state have already been closing up earlier because of COVID-19, some others that cater to more of a late-night crowd have kept to normal hours.
Now, those businesses can continue to stay open and serve food and regular beverages after 11 p.m., but no alcohol after that time.
“We have a group of customers that come in after 10, 11,” said Rommel Santos, from Hartland’s in Rock Hill.
That group may be less likely with the governor's new order.
McMaster said 22 percent of South Carolina’s COVID-19 cases are people between the ages of 21 and 30, so this is his way to try to lessen the number of young people gathering in groups.
“Although our younger people may feel just fine, and show absolutely no signs, no symptoms, they might be just carrying that virus as we know from the statistics, and unintentionally inflict permanent damage,” McMaster said.
Businesses that rely on later evening alcohol sales will have to make adjustments.
“Bars and restaurants, especially around here, they’re all locally owned,” said Don Geraghty, from The Craft Stand in Lancaster. “And between the occupancy, and now limited hours, it’s a little disheartening.”
Some businesses like theirs are pointing to potential losses because of the new rule, especially on the weekends.
“Friday night is one of my main concerns,” Santos said. “Because people, they like to stay late, Saturday night we usually close at 1, 2.”
Across the state, the rule will cause many of these places to close their doors earlier without the ability to serve alcohol in those later hours.
“I’m going to wait until the customer finishes their drink, or if they have a meal, and that’s it,” Santos said. “I don’t have a reason to stay open.”
Anyone caught violating this new rule will likely face penalties, which could include losing their alcohol license.