WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) As Lycoming County gears up to head into Governor Wolf’s ‘green phase’ of reopening in less than a week, elected officials are speaking out on some changes they would like to see take place.
For the past couple of months the main focus has been getting businesses back up and running during the pandemic. Now, more specifically, both the mayor of Williamsport and the county commissioners are focusing on how restaurants are operated.
On Friday, Governor Tom Wolf announced Lycoming County will be moving into the green phase of reopening on Friday, June 5th.
In the green phase, all businesses may reopen however some restrictions, including limited capacity are still in effect.
When it comes to restaurants, outdoor dining will be allowed and restaurants must adhere to maximum occupancy limits.
One method is to limit 50% of fire code capacity or 12 people per 1,000 square feet.
The second method is to arrange the seating so that customers are at least 6 feet from customers at another table.
Lycoming County Commissioner Tony Mussare tells Eyewitness News in a statement, “although we appreciate the governor moving us to the green category, he must also reevaluate his occupancy for restaurants and bars. According to many of those owners, 50% occupancy will not cover their cost.”
He goes on to say, the Lycoming County commissioners will continue to advocate for the small business owners.
In the meantime, until Lycoming County enters the green phase, Mayor Derek Slaughter of Williamsport has stated in a new proclamation, for local businesses to temporarily suspend open container restrictions upon streets, sidewalks, alleys or public ways of the city or upon parking areas of private shopping centers under the jurisdiction of the bureau of police.
This order is to stay in place until restaurants and bars in Lycoming County are once again permitted to serve food and drinks within their own licensed premises, or until this suspension is otherwise lifted.
This comes after Governor Wolf signed into law SB 327, which allows bars and restaurants to sell takeout mixed drinks to be consumed by the general public off of the establishments licensed premises.
Mayor Derek Slaughter also says this suspension does not apply to city parks and has no impact on the enforcement of public drunkenness, any state law or regulation or motor vehicle laws.
Mayor Derek Slaughter also says COVID-19 remains a public health crisis and it is important that citizens understand, all open container activity is at the risk of the consumer.