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Stevens Point passes open intoxicant ordinance to last indefinitely

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 7:48 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - A new ordinance allowing people to drink outside in Stevens Point was passed on Tuesday morning. People are now able to have open intoxicants near downtown Stevens Point from noon to 9 pm daily within a designated zone.

The ordinance was originally started last year to help bars and restaurants during the pandemic and now it’s permanent.

“It’s been a great success and I think it boosted the economy in general,” said City of Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza.

It began because of COVID-19.

“Back when COVID became very prevalent, we were looking at ways to help some of the downtown businesses, and businesses in general, cope with reductions in seating,” said Mayor Wiza.

The city board decided to try it for a limited time with few hours and no weekends first. They found they had no problems and it allowed small businesses to have more seating when they were forced to only have half capacity inside due to the pandemic.

There are posts with signs that say where is inside the zone that is okay for having alcohol outside. Mayor Wiza said people can walk all the way from one end of Main Street to the river with a beer or glass of wine. It also includes city parks.

Businesses inside the designated area have seen the most benefit.

“That was a huge boom to our sales,” said Kellen Ferkey, General Manager at Ruby Cafe.

Politos had the same experience.

“We’ll have people come in with intoxicants in cups from other bars and they’re just stopping on their way out and it’s easy here to get a quick slice of pizza. It makes business for us better,” said Phillip Johnson, Manager of Politos Pizza in Stevens Point.

Ferkey said he is thankful the city is continuing to help out businesses during challenging times with the pandemic.

“This is huge to those people who never saw this coming,” said Ferkey.

Mayor Wiza said the ordinance will be for good as long as there continues to be no issues. Glass is also prohibited from being carried outside.

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