State warns Burlington bars for violating governor's orders

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:38 PM EDT
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Four Burlington bars have been cited by the state for violating Gov. Phil Scott’s pandemic orders.

Red Square, the O.P., J.P’s Pub, and Akes' Place got warnings from the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery for noncompliance.

The governor’s order includes mandates such as limiting indoor operations to 50% capacity, prohibiting seating at the bar, properly spacing tables and having a designated health officer on site.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, said a lot of locals expressed concerns about overcrowding at those bars over the weekend.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Weinberger said city officials will monitor bar activity more closely. He says further action may need to be taken if noncompliance continues.

“If you’re not following the rules, if you’re having further spreading of the virus happening in our bars, I’m going to take action again,” he said. “We will do what we need to do to protect the health of our community.”

WCAX News spoke with a few bar-goers on Church Street on Wednesday. Some of them said they were shocked to hear some of their favorite night spots got warnings.

"Akes' surprises me because they were definitely doing a pretty good job of keeping everything under control,” said Elizabeth Tansey. “Everyone’s taking the necessary precautions. Wear your mask in. Hand sanitizer. Sanitize after each time. And they're limiting how many people you can come with."

Tansey and her friend Cara Broderick say they don’t go to the O.P, J.P’s Pub or Red Square too often, but they recently stopped by Akes' Place. They say they didn't notice any noncompliance.

"I haven't been to Akes' besides last night and it was perfect. There was not overcrowded at all. We had like four people at a table and everyone was like, max, four people at a table,” said Broderick.

People WCAX spoke to outside the O.P. said they’ve never seen the bar reach full capacity and people tend to practice physical distancing inside.

WCAX went to each bar for comment on Wednesday. Akes' declined to comment while employees at the other three bars said their managers were not in at the time so they couldn’t give a statement.