UPDATED: This story has been changed to reflect the decision that city councilors made to extend the limits on alcohol sales.
Burlington City Council voted Monday to extend a resolution that limits the sale of alcohol and gathering sizes until the first week of October.
The resolution, initially passed by the City Council on Aug. 20, required downtown bars and restaurants that sell alcohol to set their last call at 11 p.m. instead of 2 a.m.
The emergency order was intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Burlington with the return of college students into the area. Additional measures included in the resolution was the limitation to outdoor and indoor gathering sizes to 25 and 10 people, respectively.
For more: Burlington council passes COVID-19 restrictions on alcohol sales, gatherings
The City Council reconvened Monday to discuss the effectiveness of the gathering size and alcohol sale limits. A resolution sponsored by Councilor Chip Mason (D – Ward 5) proposes extending the emergency order until Oct. 5. The order was unanimously passed by councilors.
“While I certainly think we should all be pleased with our collective efforts to keep COVID at bay…I think there’s recognition it’s still early and this order seeks to just extend that for just a couple weeks,” said Mason.
The city councilor acknowledged that while he had received “pushback” from local eateries about the order, national coverage on the potential danger of bar reopenings in other states has kept him cautious.
“While we’re not on the list, I think it’s prudent to delay just a little bit longer and hope we don’t join that list.”
In the wake of the order, downtown bars and restaurants told the Free Press that they immediately felt its impact. Two days after the law’s enactment, Akes’ Place owner Josh Markle said his establishment had already taken significant financial hits.
“The ability to not serve past 11 is heartbreaking,” Markle said at the time, who saw half of what they normally rake in for alcohol sales on Thursday and Friday nights.
COVID-19 in Vermont: Burlington bars question city measures on alcohol sales
A report from the city’s COVID-19 Analytics team, provided to Mayor Miro Weinberger and the City Council ahead of its meeting, recommends the city extend the order.
“…these limitations should be understood as part of a broader set of interventions put in place by the City to reduce both the probability and velocity of coronavirus transmission in Burlington as students return and our local school system begins to re-open,” the Sept. 10 report reads.
In acknowledging the county and state’s low prevalence of cases, the report highlighted that both the University of Vermont and Champlain College have seen 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its student populace since Aug. 7.
Noise complaints and calls to the Burlington Police Department in areas near both colleges appear to be lower than previous years, according to the department.
The report does acknowledge, however, that the short time period during which the emergency order was enacted did not provide the city an accurate data reflection of the law’s impact.
The council will revisit the order during an Oct. 5 meeting.
Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.
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