Savannah city council considers bringing back bar card program

Savannah city council considers bringing back bar card program

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah city council is considering bringing back bar cards.

The topic came up Thursday while they were talking about a pilot open container zone for parts of the Victorian Neighborhood District. The pilot zone was supposed to start Jan. 1 and end on March 31, but the program expired due to COVID-19.

Council was scheduled to approve another 90-day pilot period to start Thursday and run through Sept. 11, but they pushed the decision back for another two weeks. However, the pilot program topic turned into a bigger discussion where several council members, including the mayor, brought up wanting to bring back the bar card program.

“We had a bar card program that had a bystander program and identification, and that was repealed by the previous council. And I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for those that issue alcohol to understand the responsibility they have and with that responsibility comes the necessary training,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.

The bar card discussion goes back more than ten years. The program was meant to make sure those serving alcohol had background checks, and knew how to responsibly serve alcohol to customers.

The bar card program was officially nixed in 2018. At that June 2018 Council meeting, then Alderman Van Johnson said in support of the program, “I have been a proponent of the bar card and specifically still feel it is a most effective and efficient way of ensuring training, certification and identification. I think those are three facets that are extremely important as it relates to making sure people are safe in a city that allows people to drink everywhere.”

One of the big issues with the old bar card plan was how to hold businesses and employees accountable without burdening them.

Again, the bar card discussion will continue at the next council meeting on June 25, and we’ll continue to follow this possibility and what council decides on temporarily expanding the to-go cup zone.

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