Drinking is temporarily legal in more areas of downtown.

On May 20 during a special called City Council meeting, council members voted to temporarily suspend portions of Ordinance No. 2018-09 to allow possession of an open container or consumption of an alcoholic beverage in the central business district of the City of Taylor. Suspension of the ordinance will expire Sept. 29.

“With the opening of bars and restaurants with limited indoor seating capacity due to COVID-19, one of the strategies that a lot of other communities are using is to allow more space outdoors for use by bars and restaurants to allow people to create more social distance,” said Tom Yantis, city director of development services. “In the central business district in Taylor, we have currently an ordinance that prohibits the carrying of an open container of an alcoholic beverage in any of the public rights of ways, whether that’d be the sidewalks or streets.”

Suspending the ordinance allows central business district businesses the ability to achieve greater social distancing and to allow businesses to serve more customers than the indoor occupancy limits of a business’s building would allow.

Businesses welcoming the news include Texas Beer Company (TBC), a bar at the heart of the district.

“We’re grateful that the city council is taking bold action to support local businesses and make downtown safer for locals and tourists who want to come visit our historic downtown,” said Ian Davis, bar co-founder and owner.

Until now, the only way a downtown business could serve alcohol outdoors is on an adjacent sidewalk and through an agreement with the city. TBC is one such business, but the bar is still finalizing plans to provide indoor service. Even when TBC opens on its planned date of May 30, the bar will encourage patrons to drink outside.

“Hopefully that’ll help people feel more comfortable and more safe,” said Davis, “because they can be more spread out outside.”

The ordinance provides the ability to possess and consume open containers of alcoholic beverages in the central business district under some conditions. Alcohol can only be sold to the public by a business licensed by TABC authorizing the public sale of such alcoholic beverage. Alcohol consumption in the central business district must not violate any other ordinance or law. Heritage Square Park and Pierce Park are prohibited from having alcohol on their grounds unless allowed by a special permit.

Businesses are encouraged to not allow customers to leave the business or area adjacent to the business with a glass container and to provide plastic or paper cups to customers.

City personnel continue to monitor the ongoing and fluid COVID-19 situation closely with Williamson County and the Williamson County and Cities Health District. The council can choose to extend the suspension before it expires in late September.

For more information, visit http://www.taylortx.gov.  

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