New Port Richey moving to align with county on Sunday alcohol sales

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County made the change last month and the New Port Richey City Council seems OK with keeping its policies aligned.

Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance during last week’s regular meeting that would amend the hours of Sunday alcohol sales.

Pasco businesses weren’t allowed to sell alcohol before 11 a.m. prior to December. The ordinance amendment last month dialed that time back to 8 a.m.

The City Council is looking to again match its city code with that of the county. The city’s amendment further clarifies its regulations by making the sale of alcohol legal from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day.

The city’s current ordinance states that alcohol can be sold from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Christmas Day. An additional, vague provision referring to alcohol sales on the municipal, county, state and federal election days will also be eliminated from the city’s ordinance.

“This is another example of where we just, for simplicity, need to be consistent with what the county’s doing,” said Mayor Rob Marlowe.

Surrounding governing bodies have done away with so-called blue laws in the past and recently.

Alcohol may be purchased between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 a.m., seven days a week, in Hernando County. Pinellas County’s 11 a.m. start time on Sundays for restaurants and stores went away in 2017, changed to 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day. The city of Tampa just abolished its blue law around the same time as Pasco County, with its City Council voting on the measure in December. Tampa’s uniform alcohol sales times are now from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day.

With the law change, Sunday morning boat trippers who forgot to buy desired beverages the night before will be offered a little leeway and restaurants hip on the brunch fad will be able to serve oft-desired mimosas and bloody marys without having to wait until 11 a.m. The loosening of restrictions would also allow citywide restaurants that serve alcohol to explore the option of opening earlier on Sundays.