After multiple violations witnessed firsthand by agents over the course of the month of August, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission announced this week its decision to pull the liquor license of the Highland Tavern in Akron. It's the first Buckeye state establishment to receive the dubious honor.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had previously said that establishments that flout COVID-19 safety guidelines — including proper social distancing, masks and a 10 p.m. last call — might be subject to having their license revoked by the state.
The Highland Tavern ran afoul of just about every guideline. Agents found the bar serving far past the 10 p.m. curfew, and on at least one occasion had staff tell them they simply wouldn't stop serving, despite the agents' presence. Investigators also found repeated violations of social distancing guidelines and found that staff frequently didn't wear masks.
Four citations have been issued thus far. Highland's had a hearing before the commission on the first three.
Cleveland.com reported the following sign has been hanging in the bar's front window this week:
“Please be advised that several of our employees, for health and/or safety reasons, are not required to wear a face covering. Those in our lovely government have ordered all persons entering indoor facilities to wear a mask. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from this order. Due to HIPAA and the 4th amendment, we cannot legally ask you about your medical condition. Therefore, if we see you without a mask, we will assume you have a medical condition and we will welcome you inside to support our business.”
Per the state's order, Highland will no longer be legally allowed to serve alcohol come the end of business on Oct. 2.