Protecting businesses against COVID-19 restrictions

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Since June 2020, Scott Hardin with the Alcoholic Beverage Control division said ABC agents have conducted over 6,000 compliance checks and 94% of them passed.

To date businesses have paid about $38,000 in fines for not complying to the COVID-19 restrictions.

State lawmakers are pushing to pass a bill that would protect businesses if a customer violates COVID-19 restrictions.

Senate Bill 254 states if a customer is not following the rules like not wearing a mask inside a business that business should not pay for that individual’s actions.

If this bill becomes a law the individual and not the business owner would be cited or fined for not following COVID-19 restrictions.

State Rep. Robin Lundstrum, a primary sponsor on this bill says at this point people know what they need to do to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

She says it’s time to get rid of actions that hurt already struggling businesses.

A lot of those struggling businesses like bars are backing the new bill.

Aaron Schauer owns The Piano Bar in Fayetteville.

He believes bars and restaurants with liquor licenses face the harshest punishments and are unfairly targeted by the Department of Health and Alcoholic Beverage Control division.

He says businesses are barely making enough money to get by and these penalties are just making it harder for them to operate.

“It is a serious deal for businesses because after a few violations they can pull your liquor license and there is simply no one else facing this fate in this whole situation,” he said.

Schauer was also part of the group of bar owners who filed a lawsuit against the state’s 11 p.m. curfew late January.

Although the lawsuit was dismissed by an Arkansas judge the curfew expired earlier this month.

The Senate did vote to pass the bill. It’s now being discussed in the Arkansas House.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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