Wrightsville Borough suspends open container ordinance, places tables on public property to boost alcohol sales

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WRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s an ‘open season’, of sorts, on open containers and the guidelines surrounding them in one York County municipality.

At the beginning of the month, Wrightsville Borough temporarily suspended its open container ordinance allowing residents to buy alcohol to go, and then enjoy on borough-owned property.

Borough Council said the decision was made in an effort to help restaurants make up for lost revenue.

“There’s more than just the death from the pandemic, there’s an economic death to the community,” said Borough Council President Eric White.

White said council wanted to help restaurants struggling to stay afloat on food sales alone.

“Restaurants that sell alcohol are having difficulties staying open because they couldn’t earn enough just by selling the food, it just doesn’t work,” White said. “We came up with the idea of putting these tables here in the borough’s streets, because the borough is not [on a restaurant’s] property.”

Under state orders, alcohol and food can’t be consumed on a restaurant’s property. But White said there’s no rule prohibiting that from happening on borough property.

“They can sit or stand at these tables, in the street, enjoy their meal by the river,” he said. “We’re trying to find a way to get people employed, back to work, and also a lot of people here depend on our local restaurants and pubs for food.”

With the open container ordinance suspended, a line of tables has been set up alongside John Wright Store and Restaurant on a street owned by the borough.

“You can’t have food here [on our lawn], but you can have it there [on the street] because our property stops here at the fence line,” said John Wright Restaurant owner, Arthur Mann.

Mann said the potential of more alcohol sales means more desperately-needed revenue, adding that sales have slumped to just a quarter of what he’d normally see.

“We’re all anxious to get back to work and get back to life as normal as quickly as we can,” he said. “Our Supreme Court in Pennsylvania has said it was constitutional because the lock-down is ‘short term’ but they failed to define what short term is.”

Throughout town, more tables and chairs have been set up near restaurants encouraging people to take out, and then stay out…just like old times.

Some collections of chairs and tables even have a sign posted nearby revealing who is responsible for placing them.

“They can carry out their food from the restaurant, and then come out here and sit at the table and enjoy the river,” White said. “We don’t need to get crazy, if we follow CDC guidelines we can do it. We found a way to adapt so that we’re still within the law.”

The change in policy for open containers will last only as long as the COVID-19 emergency declaration is in place.

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