4 a.m. Louisville Bar Closing Time Will Remain, New Proposal Is A ‘Comprehensive’ Safety Plan

Bardstown Road in 2017.

Louisville barflies, your 4 a.m. closing time shall remain. 

A Louisville council member who proposed temporarily closing all city bars at 2 a.m. in order to combat rising violence has backed off the idea in favor of another strategy to address late night safety issues. 

Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-8, announced the change, accompanied by members of the late night entertainment industry who had launched a campaign to “Say NO to 2:00 AM.”

Armstrong is now proposing an ordinance to create a “comprehensive” late night safety plan, including the funding of three additional Alcohol Beverage Control employees, which will cost $378,000. This, according to a press release, will allow the ABC department to dedicate staffing for high-traffic bar corridors throughout the city on weekends. 

Armstrong is also creating a workgroup with bar owners to discuss best practices surrounding security. The funding she is requesting also includes $10,000 for bar security trainings, which will include information on how to screen for firearms, de-escalation strategies and the administration of Narcan.

Armstrong has previously said that violence has recently risen in the popular Bardstown Road nightlife area, which is in her district. Armstrong attributed the rise in violence to “bad actor” bar owners who were booking entertainment to attract people who are affiliated with group violence and were not taking safety measures like screening for guns. 

It was bars that rose up in response to Armstrong’s original idea, organizing a Facebook page and sending messages to other council members. NoraeBar Beverage and Events Coordinator Kelsey Westbrook appeared at a council meeting to oppose it, saying that the measure would hurt an industry already struggling because of the pandemic. 

Armstrong, upon announcing her replacement plan, said in a statement “good policy comes from collaborative conversations with all stakeholders.

"Policy is at its best when elected officials and impacted groups work together to find solutions,” she continued. “That is what happened here. We all share the same goal: ensuring a vibrant, thriving nightlife while also making sure that people can enjoy that nightlife safely. Out of these conversations came a comprehensive plan to improve late night safety.”

Westbrook, who attended Thursday’s press conference, said in a statement, “We are grateful to the councilwoman for hearing our concerns and being willing to come to a solution that would provide more resources to bar owners and workers, to allow us to continue to operate during our high-traffic hours, and implement safety protocols that benefit all of us. I believe this will in turn create safer spaces for all community members.”

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