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Stillwater City Council To Revisit COVID-19 Response After Viral Video

Monday, August 17th 2020, 5:12 pm

By: Tevis Hillis

Students are back at Oklahoma State University.

As students met this weekend in large groups, with one video going viral, business owners and school officials say they are not surprised students got together in such large groups.

“This weekend was nothing out of the ordinary for students coming back into Stillwater,” said Shawn Walls, the owner of The Union. 

A viral video of students crowded into a bar called The Union is making residents concerned about COVID-19.

The Stillwater City Council is meeting Monday night to discuss that crowded bar and how to move forward.

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce said he’s heard from many of his residents earlier on Monday.

“I have gotten a lot of comments just based off the video this weekend that people would like to see less of that and a lot of people who want to shut down bars entirely. Then there is also folks who feel like this is what should be expected in a college town with school reopening,” Joyce said.

A full shutdown also brings concern, worry that students will get together anyway.

“There are concerns all together if we shut down bars all together that students will find a house or another place where they can all gather,” Joyce said. 

The union’s owner said it’s safer to have the students in a controlled atmosphere like bars and clubs.

“The students are going to be social anyway. We are regulated. We are under strict guidelines and regulations. We can control what is going on inside of our building,” said Walls.

Walls said that viral video doesn’t tell the entire story.

“Of that video, of the eight seconds was not the reality of what was going on that night,” said Walls.

Walls said his staff was cutting the capacity to less than half, forcing people to leave when it became too crowded.

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