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Liquor stores move to open earlier after hours trimmed amid COVID-19 pandemic

People practice social distancing as they wait in line to shop at the Utah State Liquor Store at 1814 E. Murray Holladay Road in Holladay on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
People practice social distancing as they wait in line to shop at the Utah State Liquor Store at 1814 E. Murray Holladay Road in Holladay on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Following a busy April for state-run liquor stores despite restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is moving to open store doors an hour earlier in June.

The agency reduced the hours of operation to noon to 7 p.m. for all of the state-run liquor stores in mid-March to ensure facilities could be properly sanitized and stocked during the pandemic.

Beginning Monday, stores will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., said Terry Wood, public information officer for the department.

Wood said the DABC doesn’t have a date yet for when stores will be able to go back to regular hours — some had stayed open into the late evening before the pandemic.

Wood said the agency is also working with store managers to revise limits on the number of customers allowed inside at a time. These numbers will vary place to place and will be contingent on how big the store is.

Current measures like social distancing, sanitization and wearing of masks will continue.

Despite the reduced hours of operation for liquor stores in April, sales were higher than they were in 2019. Total sales added up to $43.26 million compared to $34.91 million the previous year, according to information provided by the DABC.

The number is made more significant by the fact that restaurants and bars weren’t doing in-house dining at the time per Gov. Gary Herbert’s order. Bottle sales were down in April by about 119,500 bottles, but consumers spent more money on products, more than making up the difference.

The agency also reported a 6.6% increase in year-to-date liquor sales.