LEWISBURG – The Lewisburg Farmer’s Market, in neighboring East Buffalo Township, nonetheless attracted the attention of Lewisburg Borough Council Tuesday night.
The council work session was held online.
Jordi Comas, council vice president, was concerned that the market was not following published guidelines for coronavirus mitigation. He asked Michael Derman, council member, to bring up the topic at a weekly online meeting of municipalities and Union County officials.
The Farmer’s Market, held weekly on Wednesdays, has outdoor stalls as well as an indoor pavilion. Hand sanitizing material has been supplied at the entrance during recent months along with a reminder to apply the sanitizing material on entry and exit.
Comas speculated that 50% occupancy was recommended for the indoor site and questioned whether it was in compliance.
“I don’t know what the official occupancy of the interior is but if it is 100 or whatever, they may be way over that,” Comas told fellow council members. “I haven’t read the guidance, but if the guidance includes that there are supposed to be directional markers on the floor, unless something changed in the last week, they aren’t there.”
David Heayn, council member, suggested Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Beattie contact his counterpart in East Buffalo Township. Heayn said it was a matter of public health since people were no longer under stay-at-home orders and thus out and about more.
“What can we do to make sure it is a safe place?” Heayn asked. “I have a stake in what is at Farmer’s Market through my extended family. I want them to do well. I want them to do business there. But I also want people not getting sick in large numbers especially among the older population which does attend the Farmer’s Market on a regular basis.”
Comas added that not everyone wore face masks at the market, which should also be brought up with county officials. Other council members noted a virus does not observe boundaries on a map.
Comas said he was also troubled by a recent Facebook message posted by Union County Sheriff Ernie Ritter. The message indicated the sheriff’s department would not enforce what were called unconstitutional orders. Notably, orders which would interfere with businesses and employers who provide for their families.
“A lot of the things that Ernie is saying he is not going to do are things he would not do anyhow,” Lewisburg Mayor Judy Wagner commented. “The (Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department) would enforce our ordinances and do the things they normally do and are required to do by law.”
Comas said he felt compelled to act because the sheriff’s message added to confusion. Comas and Wagner noted that the statement seemed like grandstanding.
Derman said though the sheriff has little direct role in the borough, the statement was a model of bad behavior. Comas concluded he would draft a letter and circulate it among fellow council members.
Luis Medina, council president, suggested contacting Rep. David Rowe (R-85) and maintained the State House member was fueling similar actions.
Meantime, Borough Manager Bill Lowthert noted there were no complaints about COVID mitigation compliance during the first weekend of “yellow light” conditions.
Comas declined to comment on acceleration of the easing process. He said compliance with the federal and state guidelines would be the best path to take.