EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — East Dubuque City Council members have created a new type of liquor license in an effort to aid local struggling businesses.

On Monday, City Council members voted unanimously to approve the passage of a Class H liquor license, which restricts businesses from selling alcoholic beverages after 11 p.m.

Liquor license holders in East Dubuque currently hold class C or B liquor licenses. Class C licenses allow for businesses to remain open until 2 a.m., while Class B licenses allow businesses to stay open until 3:30 a.m.

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City Manager Loras Herrig said the new liquor license was created because many businesses, regardless of what liquor license they possess, are currently forced to close at 11 p.m. due to state restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While requiring businesses to close at least three hours earlier, the new Class H liquor license is significantly cheaper, costing $800 annually. A Class C liquor license in East Dubuque currently costs $1,600, while a Class B license costs $3,800.

“A lot of people have these more expensive licenses, but they aren’t able to utilize them,” Herrig said. “We are doing this to give them a cheaper option while they try to get through the pandemic.”

Herrig said many of the liquor license holders in East Dubuque want to maintain their licenses in order to avoid the lengthy process of re-applying after a liquor license has lapsed. The Class H liquor license, Herrig explained, allows them to maintain control of their liquor license at a reduced cost.

When state restrictions are lifted, Herrig said each business with the Class H liquor license can regain their previous liquor license for a prorated fee, depending on how long the Class H liquor license has been active.

City Council Member Robin Pearson said she supports the new liquor license, but wants to guarantee that businesses will not be negatively impacted in any way for temporarily transitioning their liquor licenses.

“I don’t see things changing in the spring, so this makes sense,” Pearson said. “We want to make sure they can go back to normal once things go back.”

Herrig said the approved ordinance ensures there are no negative stipulations for purchasing the Class H liquor license.

Businesses in East Dubuque will have until mid-December to renew their liquor licenses.