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York City approves open alcohol containers in some outdoor areas

A sign in front of the Revival Social Club on N. George Street offers curbside food pick up with a phone call,  Thursday, March 19, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York City restaurants will now be permitted to have designated open alcohol container areas, effective Friday.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing businesses with liquor licenses to present proposals for expanded outdoor seating areas allowing open containers.

"A significant portion of restaurants' revenues are derived from the sales of alcohol," reads a resolution introduced by council President Henry Nixon.

In conjunction with the city's relaxed guidelines for outdoor dining, the resolution will allow restaurants to take advantage of nontraditional settings, which will speed up their economic recovery and encourage the public to come out and support local businesses, according to the resolution.

More:York City to allow sidewalk cafes, consider open container changes

The mayor would designate the open container areas through Sept. 7.

In order to be eligible, a space would have to be attached to an establishment authorized to serve alcohol, and any alcohol consumed in an open container area would have to be purchased from that business.

More:Cone of Silence: Restaurants consider what’s next for diners

The council voted 4-1 to approve the resolution. Councilman Lou Rivera voted no because he disagreed with planned street closures to support some open container areas.

"My concern is that we're going to close George Street and we're going to inconvenience the majority of our citizens and our guests to the city by one block when we've already inconvenienced them due to construction," Rivera said.

North Beaver Street in York City, Thursday, May 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

He also had concerns about how this would affect children on bicycles, the homeless population and potential rallies and protests.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich had been considering closing George and Beaver streets on Friday evenings and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings to give restaurants grouped there a chance at benefiting from the relaxed open container rules.

Sidewalks on George are narrow, and without a street closure, establishments couldn't fit more than one or two tables, Helfrich said.

"That is not going to put any kind of dent in the massive losses that they have seen over the past 2½ months," he said.

Though restaurants throughout the city can submit proposals either in groups or individually to have areas designated for open containers, it is at the city administration's discretion to allow for street closures.

They are not part of the resolution and therefore cannot be voted on by the council.

The change will be the second expansion of food services in a week for the city, as last Friday businesses were cleared to offer sidewalk cafes under limited conditions, such as tables placed 10 feet apart with no more than four customers per table.

Those changes also will go into effect this Friday, as part of the governor's outdoor dining recommendations to the county.

Also during Wednesday's meeting, the City Council approved liquor licenses for Hamir’s Indian Fusion and Freedom Lucky BBQ.