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Myrtle Beach to consider forcing bars to close at 2 a.m.

Bars in Myrtle Beach and Horry County may soon be forced to close at 2 a.m. if ordinances pending in local government are passed into law.
Bars in Myrtle Beach and Horry County may soon be forced to close at 2 a.m. if ordinances pending in local government are passed into law.

Bars and nightclubs may soon have to close by 2 a.m. if ordinances in Horry County and Myrtle Beach are passed into law.

Horry County Council members unanimously passed a first reading of an ordinance requiring drinking establishments to close at 2 a.m. last week. It will take two more successful readings for the ordinance to take effect July 12.

Myrtle Beach City Council plans to take up a similar law requiring bars and nightclubs to cease operations between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. in a first reading Tuesday.

The city ordinance would also prohibit drinking establishments from locking or blocking their front doors while patrons are inside. The amendment was added to the ordinance after police discovered a nightclub with patrons inside behind locked front doors that barred anyone from entering, including public safety personnel, according to city leaders.

Businesses are currently permitted to lock doors to prevent people from entering a building as long as patrons can safely exit in an emergency, according to the city fire marshal. But police have cited public safety concerns, adding that locked doors can allow businesses to conceal illegal activity until police entry is granted.

Myrtle Beach City Council meets for a workshop at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the first-floor conference room inside city hall at 937 Broadway St. Council meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 N. Oak St.

Locked doors also prevent police from random inspections, which have been a complaint among bar and nightclub operators who say they have felt harassed in the past.

City council members expressed interest in voting on a 2 a.m. bar closing law after hearing at an April budget retreat that the county would be taking up the issue. Council members noted that if the county passed an early closing requirement, more activity would likely move to city bars.

This will not be the first city ordinance requiring drinking establishments to close at 2 a.m. in Myrtle Beach.

City Council approved a law in September that required all bars and clubs that turn over their businesses to outside promoters to close at 2 a.m. on the nights of special events. The change was sparked by a shooting at 2:30 a.m. in February 2015 outside of the former Club Levelz, which was using a DJ the night a man was gunned down.

Myrtle Beach City Council will discuss the ordinance in a 9 a.m. workshop Tuesday in the first-floor conference room inside city hall at 937 Broadway St. A vote is expected on the ordinance during the council’s 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 N. Oak St.

Bars in Horry County may be forced to close at 2 a.m. if the County Council approves a proposal. The council will cast its first vote Tuesday on the new rule that all drinking establishments in its jurisdiction lock their doors at 2 a.m. Some coun

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily

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