WASHINGTON – In the mood to celebrate President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration at a Washington, D.C., bar? For four days in January, they’ll be open 24 hours a day.
Under emergency legislation approved by the City Council this week, any Washington establishment with a liquor license, including restaurants and nightclubs, will be allowed to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. – three hours later than usual – and serve food around the clock from Jan. 17 until the morning after Obama’s swearing-in Jan. 20.
The bill, an idea of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, was introduced by council member Jim Graham, who represents two nightlife-heavy neighborhoods.
The council approved the bill, 9 to 4.
With large crowds expected to come to Washington for the inauguration, the city must be able to meet their entertainment demands, Graham had said while introducing the measure. But council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, countered, warning of increased crime, violence and drunken driving.
“I know a lot of people are excited about the inauguration, and I share that excitement,” Mendelson said. “But there are very few people I know of out partying at 5 in the morning or 4 in the morning who aren’t getting drunk. I think there are going to be consequences to that from a public safety and public order point of view. It’s not a good policy to be supporting.”
In an ordinary week, bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol until 2 a.m. weekdays and until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.