Oxford Tourism Council supports Sunday alcohol

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – The Oxford Tourism Council voted Wednesday for a resolution supporting the on-premises sale of beer, wine and liquor on every Sunday.

Alderman Jay Hughes, an ex-officio member of the Tourism Council, said he’s heard from constituents since his election asking to make such a change.

After decades of a near-total ban on Sunday alcohol, the city in 2011 legalized Sunday sales by the drink on University of Mississippi home football weekends, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, along with Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve when they occur on Sunday. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Late last year, aldermen approved off-premises sales of light wine and beer every Sunday during the same hours.

Hughes outlined three main reasons for supporting year-round Sunday sales.

“It’s a personal choice issue among adults about what they do or don’t do on Sunday,” he said. “It could give restaurants that do serve alcohol a chance to add one-seventh to their revenues. (It would support) the economic benefit of this community from the extra 2-percent tourism tax and the extra days we could ask people to stay.”

Hughes said the two-year experiment with occasional Sunday sales has proven most of the consumption accompanies meals rather than the late-night bar scene consumption that dominates some establishments on other nights.

Oxford Police Chief Joey East said two years of testing limited Sunday alcohol service has not presented any real difficulties to his officers.

“There has not been a significant change in alcohol-related calls thus far to indicate there is a problem,” he said.

The issue will be on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Oxford Board of Aldermen. If the measure passes after readings at three different meetings, the wine and liquor element of the ordinance would require approval of the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control, which Hughes said he anticipates would be an easy hurdle.

The initiative would not affect retail liquor and wine sales, which are limited to state-licensed package stores. State law limits those stores to operating Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

errol.castens@journalinc.com