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Statesboro council to discuss alcohol ordinance at work session Wednesday
City rules on bars must mesh with 'Michael's Law'
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Whether any patrons under age 21 can enter "bars" and "nightclubs" will be one question when Statesboro City Council holds a work session on the proposed new Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The meeting in the council chamber at City Hall is open to the public.

Two versions of a proposed replacement for the existing city ordinance were released in April and are available as a single document on the city's website, www.statesboro
ga.gov. On the menu bar, click on "Mayor & Council," go to the "Agendas & Minutes" page, and then select the packet for May 27.

Version A would prohibit people under 21 years old from entering an establishment that "by name, common usage, knowledge and/ or understanding ... constitutes a bar, night club, lounge or similar business."

Version B, labeled "More Permissive for Those Under 21 Years of Age," would not prohibit younger adults from entering bars and nightclubs outright, but it would require bars that wish to admit patrons under 21 to obtain an Under 21 Permit and adhere to certain rules, identifying all patrons under that age with a distinctive wristband.

Both versions contain wording intended to comply with and enforce Georgia's state alcohol laws.

A new state law, passed by the Legislature as House Bill 152, will restrict access to "bars" statewide to patrons age 21 and over, with a few exceptions. Signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on May 5, the law takes effect July 1.

But the new law defines bars as businesses that derive at least 75 percent of their annual revenue from serving alcohol.

Nicknamed "Michael's Law" by news media, it was passed in response to the death of Michael J. Gatto, 18, on Aug. 28 from a violent encounter at the since-closed Rude Rudy's nightclub in Statesboro.

Statesboro's city government, whose existing ordinance does not recognize any bars, only restaurants and "sports restaurants" that serve alcohol, could be more restrictive than the state law but not less so.