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Open container law to be revisited

City Council allowed Mayor Derek Slaughter’s resolution, designed to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, to expire Thursday night.

The reason for the 5-0 vote was to allow the state regulations to apply now that Lycoming County remains in the green phase.

Slaughter’s open container ordinance will be revisited and reworked after he had some businesses call and say it was not working out as intended, he said.

Some people brought alcoholic beverages to bars to enjoy the atmosphere, but did not purchase food or drinks from those establishments, he said.

Slaughter told Council Thursday he would go back to the drawing board and, after speaking with business owners, would work with them to rework and reword the ordinance.

“We want to help the businesses,” Slaughter said.

He said he also is looking at other cities to see what they are doing.

Police Chief Damon Hagan said the department didn’t notice any outstanding public safety issues.

“Everyone was cooperative,” Hagan said. “People were happy to be out and able to get together.”

“To be clear, I didn’t get many public safety complaints,” Slaughter said.

At this time, Slaughter deems it necessary to resume enforcement of the city’s open-container restrictions.

These enforcement measures will be on streets, sidewalks, public ways and parking areas of private shopping centers under jurisdiction of city police, he said.

The resumption of enforcement of the open-container law will begin at midnight.

As of that date and time, all of the city’s open container laws and restrictions will again be enforced, and the suspension proclamation issued on May 28, 2020 is fully withdrawn.

Slaughter said he will continue to review future possibilities to enhance business throughout Williamsport including possible future events pertaining to this restriction.

Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Legislature are wrestling over the language of reopening the state safely.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, a businesswoman downtown, noted how the city is starting to safely reopen and business is starting to pick up as people are excited about the green phase and the apparent reduction in the number of cases of the deadly virus.

Despite spikes occurring in some states around the nation, the city is prepared to hold an emergency meeting with Slaughter and council via Zoom technology should the state begin to see spikes in cases and the need arise.

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