Governor Tom Wolf is changing the last call time in bars and restaurants, but it won’t be as soon as he previously said.
The governor signed an order on Thursday ending sales of alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants at 11 p.m., effective Monday, September 21. Customers will have until midnight to finish their drink. Wolf had previously said the deadline would be 10 p.m. to reduce gatherings in bars and restaurants, a measure designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Like he said before he would, Wolf allows restaurants and bars to increase their seating capacity to 50% of their occupancy limit as of September 21. Wolf’s new order includes this provision allowing restaurants to serve more customers.
As of July, restaurants and bars have been limited to 25% of indoor capacity, which some owners say threatens their ability to stay open.
Restaurants and bars wishing to move up to 50% of their capacity will have to participate in a self-certification process to demonstrate that they will respect the measures to protect guests and their employees.
When Wolf announced new intentions to increase seating while changing the last call, some restaurant and bar owners complained that cutting liquor sales at 10 p.m. would be a big blow to their business. They said it would be especially harmful on nights when NFL games and other sporting events are late.
Those who order alcoholic beverages will still be required to order food even under the new seating limits, the Wolf administration said.
“As we continue to take critical actions to continue to mitigate the spread of COVI-19, we also recognize that this pandemic has taken its toll on the food service industry, so we need to balance public health and economic recovery.” Wolf said in the statement. “These orders give restaurants the ability to safely increase occupancy levels indoors while giving customers confidence when deciding to patronize a restaurant.”
The Wolf administration said it revised the alcohol sales threshold after receiving comments from bars and restaurants.
In an online article describing the self-certification process, the Wolf administration explained the reasoning behind the change from the last call: “After receiving feedback from the hospitality industry, the 10pm cut-off policy has been reviewed and changed. at 11 p.m. Additionally, the 11 p.m. move is in line with many other states that have limited alcohol sales due to COVID-19, as well as the PA take-out cocktail sales rule (which must also cease at 11 p.m.). “
Restaurants and bars have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with many closing their doors for good due to the drop in business.
The Wolf administration said restaurants are expected to complete the self-certification process by Oct. 5, when the application for new seating capacity begins. Self-certification will still be available after October 5th.
Previously, Health Secretary Dr Rachel Levine said initial plans to halt alcohol sales before 10 p.m. were made with college towns in mind, since some campuses have seen dozens of infected students.
“We have seen epidemics at many colleges in Pennsylvania, and right now, of course, [they’re] following their [university] the president’s recommendations, they recommend not to get together in parties, “Levine said earlier this month.” We didn’t want them to congregate in restaurants / bars and be all together, so we made mitigation efforts to prevent them. [bars and restaurants] having served alcohol after 10 a.m.
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