SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The curtain may soon fall on Zion as legislators work to craft a bill that could soon bring an end to the ‘Zion Curtain.’
The law has been controversial ever since it was enacted back in 2009.
“It’s kind of confusing to me, it’s kind of arbitrary. It’s not a huge inconvenience except for the businesses,” says Jared Pool.
In most restaurants drinks must be made behind a wall or curtain to block guests from seeing them being made, the notion being that it helps prevent children from being influenced to drink.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Greg. Krubioch.
At last nights State of the State Governor Herbert announced a desire to re-look at the alcohol laws.
“I believe we can do this without stigmatizing responsible adults purchasing and consuming alcoholic drinks in dining establishments and I believe we can do this without blurring the important distinction between restaurants and bars. To that end, we’ll work together this legislative session to keep what works for Utah and repeal what does not,” the governor said.
“That is one thing I agree with Governor Herbert on,” said Krubioch.
Restaurant owners believe bringing down the curtain will be a big help.
“I think it’s fantastic that we’re having a conversation about that,” said Jorge Fierro, CEO & President of Friday Bistro.
Fierro says it could help encourage more business in the state but also prevent massive costs to businesses for future locations.
“You can save as much as 5-10 thousand dollars to not have to get a curtain,” said Fierro.
Now, House Majority Leader Brad Wilson is sponsoring a bill to repeal the law. He mirrors Governor Herbert’s speech about having more effective and constructive alcohol policies.
“At the same time looking at how can we can address certain things that aren’t working like we would like them to in the future and one of those things in the Zion Curtain,” says Wilson.
In the past previous attempts to repeal the law have failed but there is optimism surrounding Wilson’s bill because streamlines the liquor licensing process with revamping prevention programs that target underage drinking and drunk driving. Though the language of the bill has not been finalized legislators are expected to release it sometime next week. The proposal would also come with a 1-2 percent tax increase from wholesale alcohol sales to help pay for those prevention programs.
Most Utahns we spoke to say the law needs to go away. Others believe it could be necessary in some cases but say alcohol prevention has to start with parents.
“I think there’s a lot of parental influences when kids start drinking, if you’re taught not to at a young age then I think you’ll continue to have that aspect,” says Madelyn Felix.
Several groups who have worked with legislators include the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association. They say the fall of the curtain would be mutually beneficial.
“We can still achieve the same end result which is going to be good and responsible liquor licensing and be able to take down the Zion Curtain,” said Michele Corigliano, Executive Director of SLARA