The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association intends to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the exclusion of bars and nightclubs in Executive Order 141 on behalf of more than 100 bar owners across the state. The lawsuit contends that bars deserve the same treatment under the law as restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries and other businesses which have been permitted to reopen.
Restaurants, bars and many other businesses were ordered closed by Executive Order on March 17. On April 23, the Governor’s Office announced it planned to lift restrictions in three phases. The announcement stated that Phase 2 would “allow limited opening of restaurants, bars … and other businesses that can follow safety protocols including the potential need to reduce capacity.”
Instead, on May 20, Executive Order 141 permitted the opening of only restaurants and kept closed those bars that do not generate at least 30 percent of revenues from food sales. Shortly before Phase 2 began at 5p.m. Friday, May 22, the Governor’s Office authorized breweries, distilleries and wineries to open that evening and serve alcoholic beverages while bars and taverns remained shuttered.
“It makes no sense to say it’s safe to have a drink in a distillery or a beer in a brewery, neither of which serve food, but it’s somehow unsafe to enjoy that same cocktail or beer in a bar,” said Zack Medford, president of the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association (NCBATA). “We aren’t asking for special treatment--we are asking to enjoy our constitutional right to enjoy the fruits of our labor and for equal treatment. We want to get back to work just like everyone else. The safety of our guests, our employees and our community is absolutely paramount to us. We’re willing and eager to abide by the rules when we are open.”
The NCBATA is attempting to find relief through the Legislature, and still hopes that the Governor would see fit to change his order before legal action is taken. “We’ve attempted to address the inequality through discussion and diplomacy, but if we can’t find resolution from the governor or the Legislature, then our only choice left will be the courts,” said the NCBATA’s government relations consultant, Jack Cozort.
Attorney Mike Tadych of the Raleigh firm Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych will represent the NCBATA, and plans to file its lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper’s office Friday if an alternative resolution cannot be made.
Join the Lawsuit
NCBATA Law Suit Participation: We're building a list of names of bars that the NCBATA will representing as we seek an injunction against Executive Order 141. We need a strong state-wide coalition to demonstrate the impact this EO has had on our businesses all across North Carolina. Please consider adding your company by filling out the form linked below. All bars will be listed to the media, but we'll be leaving it to the lawyer to decide exactly who to list as a co-plaintiff.