Newark Council poised to consider bar seating ban, restrictions on gatherings

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The Newark City Council appears to be poised to consider an ordinance that would eliminate bellying up to the bar while barring private gatherings more than 10 people.

The governing body is slated to go into executive session, presumably to consider the ordinances and legal implications.

The wording stems from the threat of a lawsuit from high-profile attorney Thomas Neuberger if the city adopts restrictions above and beyond those of the state.

It also follows Mayor Jerry Clifton earlier in the week saying restrictions were off the table after he discussed the issue with business owners. See the agenda below.

Click to access Agenda.pdf

The news of the possible legal action led to discussions on social media with some demanding that the identities of the restaurants be revealed and vowing not to patronize those restaurants supporting Neuberger’s position. Others supported the restaurants and demanded a full reopening of the state.

In an Email message, Neuberger declined to disclose the names of what he described as two dozen restaurants that are joining in the possible lawsuit. The city has about five dozen establishments.

Newark is currently covered by less-strict state standards that allow bar seating with social distancing measures in place and larger gatherings.

Gov. John Carney did eliminate bar seating in beach areas after a coronavirus outbreak tied to senior week and hospitality workers. Patrons sitting at tables can still receive beverages from the bar.

The restriction on gatherings had been expected with the return of students to the University of Delaware. It remains unclear on the number who will return to campus, which is restricting dormitories to single occupancy and moving for the most part to online classes.

The city has followed the governor’s suggestions to reduce the once arduous process of getting approval for expanded outdoor seating and is holding a series of Wednesday night events that close Main Street and allow more outdoor dining.

TownSquare Delaware first reported an emergency ordinance was in the works.

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