City Commissioners considering reinstating open container ordinance

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:17 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:51 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - After some complaints of partying and large gatherings in public areas, the Gainesville City Commission is now considering reinstating the open container ordinance. The open container ordinance was temporarily repealed in September.

“A short term reversal of open container laws was to try to help people not be inside bars,” said City Commissioner Harvey Ward. :We want to give people the opportunity, if they’re going to be at an establishment to encourage them to be outside because of COVID.”

Ward feels that reinstating the ordinance though is not the right way to combat some of the reported issues residents are having with large outdoor gatherings.

“I’m not saying there is not a problem with several situations in our city, and it is a problem that must be addressed,” Ward said. “I don’t think open container is the right tool for that particular problem.”

We spoke with one employee who works at Loosey’s Downtown. He says allowing open containers within city property is not the problem.

“Last night, about 30 college kids came up here doing a pub crawl, or bar golf,” said Loosey’s employee Marshal Patrick. “And it’s fun, they’re in college, it’s great, but none of them had masks, they’re all congregating together. Thank god we we’re only doing outside.”

Patrick says if the open container ordinance goes back into effect, that will leave them no choice but to move all their business back indoors, which could lead to serious COVID issues.

“This is livelihoods that we’re talking about,” Patrick said. “And the more that we can have outside, the safer it is, the better off our business, our industry will be overall.”

The repealing of the ordinance passed 4-3 back in September and no decision has been made about reinstating it yet.

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