Starting Friday, bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues will be able to serve alcohol, and stay open, until 10:30 p.m.

The new closing time is a result of a modified health order, according to a release from Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services. Health Department Director Stephanie Browning modified the earlier health order which required businesses to stop serving alcohol by 9 p.m., a move aimed to reduce transmission of COVID-19. The modified order will expire Oct. 6.

Businesses that don't comply with the health order will be violating the food code, according to the release, and may be required to close until they've submitted, and gained approval for, an operational plan. The plans must now be submitted 14 days in advance of an event, a 16-day drop from the previous 30-day requirement.

The county has seen a drop in the number of cases since the initial order went into effect Aug. 28, according to the release. The Health Department attributes the drop in cases to the restrictions in place that reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission. 

The health order modification also comes after the county announced its previous positivity rate was incorrect due to a lab reporting error, and provided updated numbers. While the reported rates over the last few weeks dropped compared to what had been previously reported, the new data still shows an increase in positivity rates since Aug. 21.

"While this is a promising change in our data, we are cautiously optimistic," Browning said in the release. "We hope that extending this order can help continue slowing the spread of COVID-19 so that we are able to begin slowly loosening restrictions without seeing increased cases again."

The Health Department also said in the release that it is continuing to hire additional staff with CARES Act funding.

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Assistant city editor for the state government beat. Reach me at eew3pr@umsystem.edu or 512-348-4539

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