Authorities are working to revoke the liquor license of a North Jersey bar that twice ignored orders not to serve patrons on the premises amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state's top cop said.
The action comes after the Post Time Pub in Blairstown “was twice issued criminal charges and flouted local law enforcement efforts,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said Tuesday.
It’s the kind of activity that in ordinary incidents would get a liquor license suspended for up to 10 days, but it takes on different meaning during a state of emergency created by a health crisis.
Owner Joyce Billings served customers inside the bar on March 27 and on April 2 in violation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order closing non-essential business, Grewal said.
The Teaneck native's company, Billings, Inc., even advertised, he said.
Pulling the liquor license from Billings Inc. is necessary “(g)iven the potential life and death consequences of its conduct,” Grewal and the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Tuesday.
Murphy’s executive allows bars and restaurants to remain open as essential businesses but only for take-out or delivery services of food and alcohol.
“Liquor license holders who flout the ‘take-out only’ rule by allowing patrons to come inside their establishments and linger for drinks are breaking the law and putting themselves, their customers, and all New Jerseyans at risk,” Grewal said.
In addition to filing a notice seeking revocation, ABC Acting Director James Graziano ordered Billings, Inc. to explain why its license shouldn't be suspended immediately pending a full hearing on the charges.
“The facts of this matter clearly demonstrate that Post Time Pub licensee refuses to comply with Executive Order 107 and will continue to cause irreparable harm to the public unless its license is suspended (during this litigation),” ABC court papers say.
Under ABC guidelines, liquor license holders cannot provide table, bar, or tasting room service during the state of emergency.
"In addition," they say, "no licensee may sell, serve or deliver alcoholic beverages in open containers.”
Post Time Pub “has created a situation that fosters transmission of COVID-19, either to its patrons or persons that may come in contact with its patrons,” Graziano’s filing alleges.
The specific charges filed by the ABC against Billings include “violating Governor Murphy’s emergency order; aiding and abetting illegal activity on the premises by allowing patrons to eat and/or drink in the bar in violation of the emergency order; and serving alcohol outside the scope of its license because at the time of the incidents, Post Time Pub’s license was restricted to only serving package goods.”
Billings, Inc. has until next Tuesday to file a response to the ABC’s order to show cause.
ALSO SEE: A Morris County man was caught on surveillance video coughing on and touching objects in his estranged wife’s home, saying he had “the rona,” authorities charged.
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