Watertown tavern’s liquor license reinstated months after breaking COVID rules

Watertown tavern’s liquor license reinstated months after breaking COVID rules
Cell phone video from Watertown's Hitchin' Post Tavern in September 2020 (Source: WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown’s Hitchin’ Post Tavern is back in business after getting its liquor license back.

Last October, the New York State Liquor Authority ordered an emergency suspension of the Court Street bar’s liquor license for violating the state’s face mask and social distancing rules.

The move came after video from inside the bar made its way around on social media and eventually to Jefferson County officials, who had the Watertown Police Department start an investigation.

According to the SLA, officers went to the tavern on September 27, 2020 and found more than 70 patrons inside. That was double the maximum occupancy under COVID-19 regulations, the SLA said at the time.

Police also told the state that patrons were standing shoulder-to-shoulder, most without facial coverings.

The SLA concluded that social distancing was “impossible” and facemasks were “optional.”

The Hitchin’ Post paid a $4,000 fine on February 17, its liquor license was reinstated a few days later, and the bar reopened.

7 News spoke with the manager of the Hitchin’ Post on Friday. Kevin Beach said the incident back in September happened because the owner, Clifford Pickett, was in the hospital.

Beach said Pickett’s grandson allowed the events of September 27 to happen, and added that the grandson no longer works there.

According to Beach, the loss of the liquor license forced the tavern to close for more than 5 months and prompted the layoffs of 5 employees.

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