Public Forums on changes to the Alcohol Code

by | Jul 30, 2021 | Community News, Mayor

The Macon-Bibb County Commission approved changes to the parts of the Alcohol Code related to Sunday sales hours, security camera requirements, and armed security requirements. To help owners of package to go stores, bars, nightclubs, and special event venues, there will be two public forums where the changes will be explained, and people can ask questions.

These forums will be held in Commission Chambers at City Hall (700 Poplar Street) on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. and Thursday, August 12, at 1:00 p.m.

  1. NEW SUNDAY SALES HOURS FOR PACKAGE TO GO LOCATIONS

 

Effective September 1, 2020, the Macon-Bibb County Commission adopted Ordinance No. O-20-0063, which expanded the authorized hours of sale for alcoholic beverages by the package to go on Sundays.  All businesses licensed to sell alcoholic beverage by the package to go – including beer, wine, and liquor packages – may sell them on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 Midnight.

Businesses licensed to sell alcoholic beverages by consumption on premises may continue to sell beer and wine beverages only from 12:30 p.m. on Sunday until 2:00 a.m. on Monday without a Sunday Sales Permit; or may sell beer, wine, and liquor beverages from 11:00 a.m. on Sunday until 2:00 a.m. on Monday with a Sunday Sales Permit.

  1. NEW SECURITY CAMERA REQUIREMENTS

Effective July 1, 2021, the Macon-Bibb County Commission adopted Ordinance No. O-21-0019, which includes new requirements for security camera systems to be used by certain alcoholic beverage licensees.

  1. Who is affected?

Security camera systems must now be used by every business licensed to sell any alcoholic beverages by the package to go, as well as by “bars” and “nightclubs.”

  1. What is a “bar”?

The term “bar” is defined under state law as any business that derives 75% or more of its total annual gross revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises.

  1. What is a “nightclub”?

A “nightclub” is any business which meets all of the following criteria:

  • The business directly or indirectly charges patrons for admission (such as a cover charge, membership fee, or minimum food or drink order requirement);
  • The business is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises;
  • The business provides entertainment using amplified sound, live musical instruments, or live amplified human speech (such as a DJ, emcee, live band, or dramatic or comedic performance);
  • The business does not provide enough seats for everyone viewing the entertainment to sit; and
  • The business does not earn at least half of its annual revenues from the sale of prepared meals or the renting of hotel/motel rooms.
  1. How many cameras do I need?

Package to go retailers need enough cameras to capture the face and clothing of any person (1) entering through any public entrance to the business; or (2) any person making any purchase from the business.

Bars and nightclubs need enough cameras to capture the face and clothing of any person (1) entering through any public entrance to the business; (2) standing outside of the business but within fifty feet of any entrance; (3) making any purchase from any fixed point of sale within the business; and (4) on any dance floor or in any similar area within the business.

  1. What kinds of cameras do I need?

Cameras must meet the following criteria to comply with this Ordinance:

  • The camera is producing an image with a 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution or greater;
  • The camera must operate at a minimum frame rate of 15 frames per second;
  • The camera must be capable of producing clear images of the faces and clothing of the people listed above in all actual lighting conditions used inside or outside of the business;
  • The camera must be able to save images to a film, tape, or digital media that can be permanently stored and enlarged as needed; and
  • The camera must be kept clean and free of dust or debris which would interfere with image capture.
  1. How do I know if my camera system is compliant?

 If you have questions about your camera system, you may contact the Sheriff’s Office Outreach Division at (478) 803-2710, and a Sheriff’s Outreach Officer can come to your business to inspect your camera system for you.

  1. How long do I have to save my security videos?

 Videos must be saved for at least 30 days. 

  1. What is the penalty for non-compliance?

Non-compliant businesses may be cited and fined up to $1,000 per occurrence, and individuals may be jailed for periods not to exceed six months. Additional adverse actions may also be taken against the alcohol licenses of any violators, up to and including the suspension or revocation of all alcohol licenses held by a licensee.

  • NEW REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO THE USE OF ARMED SECURITY IN BARS, NIGHTCLUBS, AND SPECIAL EVENTS

Effective July 1, 2021, Ordinance No. O-21-0019 also included new requirements relating to the use of armed security personnel in bars, nightclubs, and special event venues.

  1. What is “armed security”?

Any person who (1) has job duties that include protecting any person in a business from death or bodily harm, or preventing or breaking up fights between or involving patrons; and (2) is suffered, permitted, or required to carry a firearm on the job.  The term “armed security” does not include state-certified peace officers who are working at your business.

  1. Are there any new rules for if my security staff does not carry a gun, or if I only use off-duty police officers?

No, there are no new requirements being imposed on your business if none of your security staff carry a firearm on the job, or if you only use off-duty certified peace officers for security. 

  1. What are the new rules for businesses to use armed security?

In summary, if your bar or nightclub business or your business which is holding a special event with alcohol sales is going to hire any armed security staff to work as your employees, then your business must first obtain a “private security business” license from the Georgia Department of Private Detectives and Security Agencies (“GDPDSA”), and must comply with all requirements thereof.  More information about the GDPDSA and licensure can be found online at https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/42.

If you hire an independent contractor to provide armed security, then the independent contractor must be licensed as a “private security business” through the GDPDSA and the staff you use must be individually licensed as a “security officer”.

Regardless of whether the armed security staff are employees or independent contractors, each person working as armed security must be individually licensed as a “security officer” (aka “blue card”) by the GDPDSA.  This licensure includes a training component which must be completed before the license may be issued.

  1. How will the use of armed security be monitored?

Alcohol license renewal and special event permit applications in the future will ask applicants to certify whether they will employ any armed security personnel.  If the answer is “yes,” then the applicant must provide a copy of its private security business license, as well as the security officer licenses of all people who will be working as armed security for the business, along with a list of the names and dates of birth of each such person.

If you certify that you will not use armed security on a renewal application, then you must submit an updated certification form before you may begin to use armed security later.  If you hire a new person to work as armed security, then you must update the list of people working as armed security before you may allow the new person to work while carrying a gun.

  1. How are these provisions enforced?

You do not have to know that your employee or security staff is armed to be in violation of this Ordinance.  You, as the business owner, are in charge of knowing whether your staff are armed or not, and any violation may be cited. Any business that uses armed security, either as employees or independent contractors, without complying with these new provisions will be in violation of this Ordinance, and may face a fine, jail time, or adverse action against the business’s alcohol license.  Venues hosting special events during which this Ordinance is violated may lose the right to host special events for up to two years.

  1. Are there any other rules on the conduct of armed security?

Yes. Armed security staff may not drink any alcoholic beverages or work while under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs. If any armed security staff is found to have violated this rule, both the individual and the business may be cited and penalized.

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