Bars May Remain Open Past 11 P.M. While Case Against Executive Order Proceeds

Friday, January 8th 2021, 9:26 pm

TULSA, Okla. -

There could be more drink pouring and toasting this weekend after a temporary restraining order on Governor Kevin Stitt's executive order for businesses to close at 11 p.m. remains in effect.

In an over three hour hearing Friday afternoon, an Oklahoma County judge heard from the state, including Commissioner of Health Lance Frye and health experts called as witnesses who support the 11 p.m. curfew.

"I would say any mitigation effort right now makes a difference and collectively, mitigation efforts make a significant difference," said Dr. Julie Watson, CMO of INTEGRIS Health.

The six bar owners who sued the state have argued that the governor does not have the authority to impose or enforce the order, which began in mid-November.

Over at Shady Keys in downtown Tulsa, owner Casey Bradford describes the curfew as "devastating."

"We make 90 percent of our money in between the hours of 11 and 2,” said Bradford. “So from a business standpoint, I would love to be open until 2 a.m. every single night. I have to take that stance because I have employees that need to feed their families."

Bradford said the curfew is not only crippling bars and restaurants, it is also hurting the economy.

"The bar owners are trying to find a solution to this, and the solution is if you want to shut us down, do it entirely and then find some way to assist us,” said Bradford. “We're one of the highest tax-generating industries in Tulsa. I mean, we're at 35 percent taxes."

Bradford said at the end of the day, it is not necessarily about the closing time, but rather whether people can be responsible and follow health guidelines.

Next in this ongoing court battle, the judge will take what she heard under advisement and make a decision on a date not yet scheduled.

Until then, the Oklahoma ABLE Commission said it will not enforce the curfew.