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COLUMBUS - Agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cited four establishments Friday night after receiving complaints of "blatant violations of orders" in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, according to a press release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“The majority of establishments we visit are doing everything they can to provide a safe environment for their patrons,” said OIU Enforcement Commander Eric Wolf. “It is no surprise to see so many following the precautions put in place to make their establishments safe and compliant with the directives.

"Agents will continue to conduct compliance checks and take enforcement action when egregious violations are observed.”

Although many bars and restaurants statewide were found in compliance with health orders, the Ohio Investigative United stated a number of warnings were issued throughout the night.

Agents visited the following liquor-permitted establishments and issued citations after witnessing the violations:

Highland Tavern, Akron, received two administrative citations for limitation on hours for on-premises consumption and one citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity this week. The Akron Police Department issued a warning to the establishment on Aug. 2, for hours of on-premises consumption. On August 6, OIU Agents conducted an investigation and issued a violation notice for limitation on hours for on-premises consumption. Establishment staff indicated to agents, they would not comply and would continue to operate as normal. After a citizen’s complaint, agents conducted a compliance check on Friday night at approximately midnight, they observed violations including, a lack of social distancing, employees not wearing masks, patrons congregating in large groups while standing and consuming/possessing alcohol. Agents further observed the two bartenders continuing to serve/sell alcohol drinks to their customers. The location was issued a second violation notice for limitation on hours of on-premises consumption and a citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity.

Town House Bar, Marietta, received an administrative citation for limitation on hours for on-premises consumption and insanitary conditions (alcoholic beverages not maintained in potable condition). Agents received complaints about violations of both ODH orders and hours for on-premises consumption from the local health department and citizens. The complainants indicated there was no social distancing, employees and patrons were not wearing masks, concerts with large crowds were hosted, and employees were violating the hours of on-premises consumption. At approximately 1:35 a.m., agents entered the establishment and observed patrons consuming alcoholic beverages on the outdoor patio and inside around the bar. Despite the fact it was well past 10 p.m., an agent was able to purchase an alcoholic beverage from the establishment.

PVO Inc., known as Positive Vibes Social Club, East Cleveland, received an administrative citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity. OIU Agents were working jointly with the East Cleveland Police Department. Agents and officers, observed egregious violations of ODH orders, including a complete lack of social distancing efforts, physical barriers and patrons congregated at the bar.

Tennie Inc., known as Sportmans Lounge, East Cleveland, received an administrative citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity and limitation on hours for on-premises consumption. As part of the joint operations with the East Cleveland Police Department agents were advised of possible violations at the establishment. Between the hours of 11:45 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., agents observed consistent traffic to and from the premises. Agents also observed a large groups of people congregating in the parking lot consuming alcoholic beverages as well as a pop up tent with numerous tables, chairs and music. Upon entering the establishment, agents observed a patron purchasing six alcoholic beverages, including beer, shots of spirituous liquor and mixed beverages. The permit holder indicated the alcoholic beverages were being sold to-go, however they were not sealed or packaged in any way and patrons were permitted to consume the beverages on the makeshift patio area the permit holder constructed.

The Ohio Investigative Unit reported these cases will go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission for potential penalties, including fines and/or the suspension or revocation of liquor permits.

The Ohio Investigative Unit is made up of fully-sworn, plainclothes peace officers responsible for enforcing Ohio’s alcohol, tobacco, and food stamp fraud laws. Agents conduct compliance checks to ensure the liquor permit premises are compliant with the Ohio Liquor Control Act. Agents also act on complaints of illegal activity on liquor permit premises. In addition to providing the safety checks associated with the COVID-19 directives, OIU agents continue to perform their normal compliance checks to ensure the liquor permit premises are complying with the Ohio Liquor Control Act.

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