On Sunday, the cities joined the growing list of municipalities across Georgia allowing residents to buy alcohol on what many consider a day of worship. Last month voters in more than 100 local elections statewide approved Sunday alcohol sales after more than a century of prohibition.
Unable to gather enough votes to repeal the statewide ban entirely, Georgia lawmakers opted this year to allow cities and counties to decide the issue for themselves.
Voters in Eton will head to the polls Tuesday for a runoff election on whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales. The north Georgia town deadlocked 44-44 on the issue on Nov. 8.
Atlanta residents won’t be able to buy alcohol on Sundays until Jan. 1 after a vote by city council, but towns in the metro area — including Roswell, Woodstock and Sandy Springs — have already begun their new policies.
The Georgia Food Industry Association says 128 Georgia cities had a Sunday alcohol sales referendum on the ballot Nov. 8. The group says 105 won approval, though there were a handful of smaller communities, such as Garden City near Savannah and Tunnel Hill in north Georgia, that voted down the idea.
Some cities are looking to charge retailers extra for the privilege to sell alcohol seven-days-a-week. Auburn will require a $125 annual fee beginning in 2012. The city of Dunwoody will charge stores $1,100 per year, starting yesterday.
Overall the switch to Sunday sales won’t require much effort on the part of most supermarkets and convenience stores that are already used to being open that day. Liquor stores will have to make arrangements for staffing what used to be a mandatory day off.
Georgia was one of three remaining states — including Indiana and Connecticut — that did not allow Sunday alcohol sales, and the last Southern holdout.
The statewide ban on Sunday alcohol sales was passed by the Legislature in 1937 after the prohibition was ended at the national and state levels. But many local governments outlawed Sunday sales even before Georgia launched its own prohibition of alcohol in 1908.