Enjoy your drinks while you can: Gainesville’s open container ordinance may come back

The ban is not yet in effect as the commission has to go through a few more readings.
Published: May. 8, 2022 at 10:34 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - When the City of Gainesville’s open container ordinance was revoked by the city commission back in 2021, it allowed people to drink alcohol in public.

At the time, city commissioners said it was the safest way to let people gather during the pandemic, while also bringing in more business to restaurants. But now the ordinance may come back.

“Yeah honestly I didn’t know there was a ban. It’s kind of interesting cause it’s a college town, I feel like people make a lot of business off of that,” Amia Davis, resident.

Several businesses and residents in downtown Gainesville say they are for the move, some are against it, but some say they weren’t even aware of the recent vote to ban outdoor drinking on public property.

“We can’t sell beer to-go, we can’t do those kind of things that kind of complete the full service of the restaurant industry,” said Colin Haynes, General Manager at Oak.

“I don’t think it’s going to ruin the business because we’re still going to have a lot of people come out and sit at the bar to get drinks,” said Barry Kidd, Kitchen Manager at Harry’s.

The ban comes after commissioners say they received numerous reports of people partying late into the morning.

“You know around that time of 1:30 to 2:00 A.M., when people get out of the bars, you’re just going to hear noise regardless of what the situation is,” said Haynes.

“Once you get a little tipsy, and you’re allowed to have drinks anywhere and at any time, things can get out of control so this is really going to help things get back to the way it was before COVID,” said Kidd.

In addition to reinstating the ordinance, a second vote was passed to allow businesses to apply for special exceptions to the open container ruling.

Before being finalized, the commission will have to go through a few more readings.

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