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Alcohol ordinance: Covington lengthens sales hours

COVINGTON - The Covington City Council approved a new alcohol ordinance Monday night, extending alcohol sales hours, regulating activities of establishments that sell alcohol and requiring permitting of certain employees.

The council agreed to extend liquor by-the-drink sales hours until 1:30 a.m., with the requirement that all drinks be off the table by 2 a.m. Sales were previously cut off at 12:45 a.m.

Sunday alcohol sales hours, from 12:30 p.m. to midnight, will remain the same. City Attorney Ed Crudup advised the council they could not change those hours because they were set by voters via referendum.

The extension met the demands of local restaurant owners, who said they needed to be competitive with surrounding counties that serve alcohol longer.

The ordinance also requires managers and bartenders to obtain an annual permit from the Covington Police Department showing they have completed a background check proving they have not been convicted of any felony or violation of law involving the manufacture, sale or use of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, any sex crime or crime against children.

Originally, the ordinance prohibited anyone convicted of such a crime from being employed as a manger or bartender at these establishments unless they had completed their entire sentence, including probation and parole.

But the council agreed, at the suggestion of Councilwoman Janet Goodman, that a person could be employed so long as they had completed at least five years of their probation or parole.

The ordinance also prohibits establishments from serving beverages in containers larger than 24 ounces; keeping fewer than 25 food items on the menu; holding special events not related to food service, such as lingerie shows, wet T-shirt, bikini or mud-wrestling contests; pole dancing and male or female reviews; contests of skill or chance in which the prize is alcohol or money; or events providing drink discounts for special groups.

Establishments that serve liquor are no longer prohibited from having pool tables, dart boards, pinball and video game machines.

The ordinance went into effect Tuesday. Business owners have until Aug. 1 to come into compliance with permitting requirements.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.