Virginia Restaurants Coming to Terms with New Alcohol Restrictions

Nov 19, 2020

Restaurants across Virginia are adapting to new rules about when they can serve alcohol.

Restaurants in Virginia now have to stop serving alcohol by 10pm, and they have to close their doors by midnight. The new rules are the latest effort to control the spread of coronavirus.

Noe Landini is owner of Landini Brothers in Old Town Alexandria.

Credit AP Photo / Jenny Kane

"There's no way you can convince me that somebody who is having dinner with their family or colleagues at 9:45pm that by 10 I'm somehow contributing to everyone's safety by removing their drinks from the table or their bottle of wine," Landini says. "I'm sorry, but I think that's arbitrary."

But people who are drinking after 10pm might actually be a different kind of customer says Dusty George. He's the general manager of Gwarbar in Richmond.

"There are some instances where people are getting up from their table and going to talk to other people and stuff like that, which is definitely not what we want and it's not what we think is going to make this entire thing better," George explains. "So I think that it might just be that those people aren't there to have dinner and a few beers and drinks with dinner. They want to go out and drink and socialize at those later hours."

The new rules for restaurants come at a time when Virginia is seeing a sharp spike in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Health Director: Restrictions Could Curb Risky Behavior by Young Adults

About a third of the new COVID-19 cases in the city of Richmond are people in the 20 to 29 age group.
The city’s health director says while younger people generally avoid serious complications, they can spread the illness to more vulnerable populations.  "My hope is that that messaging, that sense of 'my behavior is going to have an impact on others,' will resonate at some point," Dr. Danny Avula said in a Thursday news conference.

Avula believes  the statewide curfew on alcohol sales and reduction in gathering size will also help rein in risky behavior in younger people.  The health department is also forming a focus group to improve its messaging and outreach.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.