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The Alabama ABC Board announced that effective immediately, bars, restaurants and lounges will be able to serve alcohol after 11 p.m. in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The board voted in July to prohibit late-night sales in an attempted to slow the spread of COVID-19.

ABC Spokesperson Dean Argo said that emergency rule 20-X-6.21 ER, which the board adopted Tuesday, will eliminate that limitation, but will require ABC licensed bars, restaurants and lounges to "follow the directives that were used by the governor and/or state health officer."

After the ABC Board meeting last week, Argo told The Tuscaloosa Thread that the prohibition of sales affected the profits of bars, restaurants and lounges across the state.

As the state sees the rate of new COVID cases continue to decline, Argo said the Board wanted to be less restrictive.

Locally, last week Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox eased capacity restrictions for ABC licensed establishments that have a capacity under 100 patrons.

Small bars with a max capacity under 100 people can now open up to full capacity. The city's mid-sized establishments can open at half-capacity or 100 patrons, whichever is larger. The city's largest bars can admit 150 patrons, regardless of the total capacity.

Maddox said Tuesday that loosening the capacity restrictions doesn't mean the threat of COVID-19 is past -- he said mask mandates, social distancing rules and occupancy restrictions are still in place and the Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue will still be enforcing them aggressively.

Maddox said that establishments who break the ordinances will be cited after the first offense and will be shut down with the chance to lose their license if it continues to happen.

"We're taking it that seriously," Maddox said. "Our healthcare system we have to protect, our economy we have to protect. We can't jeopardize it by doing foolish things."

With the Alabama Crimson Tide's first home football game this weekend and the increase of enforcement, Maddox still said the best way to combat the coronavirus is through personal diligence, not government enforcement.

"We have done a great job," Maddox said. "This community has done a fantastic job of keeping these numbers low. We're coming to a point where we're going to be in really good shape, we don't want to jeopardize that."