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Why restaurants and bars are 'public places'

Why restaurants and bars are 'public places'

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Parks, government buildings and town squares are generally funded with public money for public use. It would follow that those are naturally understood public places.

Privately owned restaurants and bars, however, are also considered public places in most legal definitions because the public is invited into the establishment. As discussion about the smoking ban continues, I wanted to clarify that point as I've seen confusion about what constitutes a public place. Describing the ban as a public smoking ban covers all the establishments listed under the Casper ordinance definition.

The definition listed in the proposed ordinance reads:

"‘Public Place' means an enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted including, but not limited to, banks, and other financial institutions, publicly funded or owned buildings, school and college buildings, public conveyances, recreational facilities, lounges, taverns and bars, educational facilities, health care facilities, laundromats, public transportation facilities, reception areas, restaurants, retail or wholesale food production and marketing establishments including grocery stores, supermarket and stores where food items are sold for on-premises or off-premises consumption, retail service establishments, retail or wholesale stores, shopping malls, sports arenas, theaters, and waiting rooms. A private residence is not a "public place" unless it is used as a licensed child care, licensed adult day care, health care or pre-school facility."

In other words, if you are allowed to walk into a place without an invitation, it's probably public.

Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or kelly.byer@trib.com.

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