Councilmember Hans Riemer Explain Why He Voted Against Allowing Food Establishments to Serve Alcohol After 10pm
At the beginning of this month Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, after consultation with County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, issued an updated executive order that allows food service establishments to serve alcohol after 10 p.m with a waiver.
It was approved by the County Council in a 8-1 vote, with the only vote against it coming from Councilmember Hans Riemer.
Yesterday Riemer sent out an e-mail explaining his position, citing getting kids back into the classroom as a priority.
Riemer, a father of two MCPS students, shared concern that that bar or restaurant patrons gathering indoors, without masks, drinking late in the evening will be more likely to spread the virus.
His full e-mail can be seen below.
I want you to know that, while I strongly support the decision not to open MCPS this Fall, getting our children back into their classrooms is an urgent priority for me.
Research is showing very troubling signs about learning loss during COVID. We may spend years recovering. Opportunity gaps are intensifying and the most vulnerable children are paying the biggest price.
That’s why I voted against the Executive Branch’s recent decision to allow restaurants to serve alcohol to patrons indoors after 10pm, hours that are generally more for socializing than eating.
While the proposal did have some safeguards, I remain concerned that allowing indoor late night socializing can only result in more COVID cases and make it harder to reopen schools.
This may seem somewhat dissonant since I am also the Councilmember who launched the Nighttime Economy Task Force in 2013 to modernize our alcohol laws, leading to easier restaurant operations and an entire new local brewery, winery and distillery industry.
But I am also a parent of two MCPS students, a resident of this community, and I am concerned that bar or restaurant patrons gathering indoors, without masks, drinking late in the evening will be more likely to spread the virus.
The hardest part of this moment is that there are no easy answers – we cannot just will the virus away – and our restaurant industry is suffering tremendously right now.
But if late night socializing causes more viral spread, it will be harder and less safe for our teachers and families to reopen schools. That’s why I voted no.
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