Statement: Cutting Off Alcohol Sales At 10 p.m.? Governor’s New Rule Harmful To Small Business Taverns and Licensed Restaurants
The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s announcement from the Governor’s Office to cut off alcohol sales at restaurants at 10 p.m.
Today’s announcement by the Governor may sound good, but as usual, the headline doesn’t fit the copy. Announcing bars, taverns and restaurants can open September 21 to 50% does not solve the problems created by the shutdown and existing orders.
Our member bars and taverns are not making profits operating at 50% without bar service, and are facing a fall and winter without outdoor service. Furthermore, we’ve still seen no scientific justification for having to order a meal to get a beer.
Now, hidden in today’s announcement from Governor Wolf is a barely noticeable stipulation that alcohol sales at restaurants must stop at 10 p.m.
In his statement today, Governor Wolf wrote “Further, starting September 21 restaurants that have alcohol sales will close alcohol sales at 10:00 p.m.”
This rule totally discriminates against establishments that do not offer daytime service. Many establishments open late in the afternoon to serve dinner. In addition, this rule hurts shift workers getting off late who wish to have a drink with their dinner after work.
This hidden rule will help put many more establishments out of business. In a 2019 survey of Pennsylvania small business taverns and licensed restaurants, alcohol sales make up 63 percent of their business. Cutting four hours of sales off a 10- to 14-hour business operation hurts significantly.
Taverns and licensed restaurants should be required to follow science-based rules to help fight COVID-19 including masks and social distancing patron tables. But, where’s the science that says having a drink with a meal after 10 p.m. is any different than having a drink with a meal at 6 p.m.?
Already within only a couple of hours of his announcement, we are already getting many questions about the Governor’s newest rules for taverns and licensed restaurants. Why? Because this rule is very vague and confusing. For example, consider the following questions that we’ve either fielded through phone calls, emails, or on Facebook:.
How about take-out? Can a patron buy a six-pack to take home with their meal after 10 p.m.?
Since taverns and licensed restaurants typically have “R” licenses, how does this impact “R” licenses owned by grocery and convenience stores that stay open past 10 p.m.? Must they close sales of six-packs, wine and slushies at 10 p.m.? What about the clubs that sell both food and alcohol. Are they included as well?
While we’re thankful for being allowed to move back to 50%, but would prefer the same social distancing requirements of all other retailers, the 10 p.m. cutoff of alcohol sales effectively weakens any assistance Governor Wolf offered to these businesses through increased occupancy.
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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.