WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The mayor of Williamsport is taking back a proclamation he ordered just two weeks ago. This comes after he felt the community was taking advantage of a situation created to help local businesses.
“I feel that we’re all at that point now where we’ve been cooped up inside. We’re ready to be out. We’re ready to support local businesses and it stinks that some people just can’t handle that,” Jen Epp of Williamsport said.
Back in May, Goveror Wolf signed into law SB327, allowing bars and restaurants to sell mixed take-out drinks to be consumed by the public off of the establishment’s licensed premises. At that time, Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter deemed it to be in the best interest of the local businesses in the community to temporarily suspend open container restrictions, upon streets, sidewalks, alleys, or public ways of the city.
“The whole point or goal of it was to support the business to allow the businesses a little flexibility if they were at their 50 percent capacity, they could still sell dinner and a beer and folks could go across the street at a picnic table and enjoy their dinner,” Mayor Slaughter said.
“Well it really helped because our restrictions were doing 50 percent capacity operating a little less than that just to make sure we have safe distancing between tables, keeping everybody safe,” Bullfrog Brewery owner Steve Koch said.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly for everyone. And now Mayor Slaughter has decided to put the lid back on that proclamation, and resume enforcement of the city’s open container restrictions.
“Folks were coming down with their own and not necessarily supporting or buying anything from the business so they wanted to enjoy the ambiance or the atmosphere but not actually supporting the business,” Mayor Slaughter said.
“It’s nice to be able to have that and to be able to support local businesses in a time where you can’t really be inside as much or not have as many people inside so it’s real unfortunate that people are kind of ruining it,” Scott Delone of Williamsport said.
Now the city is working together to come up with a new proclamation but with redefined rules for what the public can and cannot do when it comes to drinking in public.
“Well I think it was a great move by the mayor and the city to recognize the need for change during this trying time,” Koch said.
“I think that would be wonderful, you know, just to make sure the rules are clear-cut and everything,” Epp said.
Mayor Slaughter says he must also go through PennDOT and other agencies to get their approval on a new proclamation.