Alcohol sales for on-site consumption at all Pennsylvania restaurants must end by 11 p.m., effective Monday, Sept. 21, under an order issued Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine. Customers will have until midnight to finish their last drink.
The current alcohol-sales deadline in the counties outside of Philadelphia is 2 a.m. In Philadelphia, it is 11 p.m. To-go cocktail sales end at 11 p.m., as well. Restaurants in Philadelphia must close by midnight.
Wolf’s mandate could have been more draconian. Wolf had announced last week that the curfew would be 10 p.m., which frustrated the owners of sports bars, in particular.
All drinks in Pennsylvania must be served with a meal, defined as “food prepared on the premises sufficient to constitute breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”
The move-up coincides with an increase in indoor capacity for restaurants outside of the city to 50%, if they self-certify that they are complying with COVID-19 safety precautions. Those that don’t self-certify may remain at 25%, which also is the current limit in Philadelphia. The percentages must include guest-facing staff.
Philadelphia restaurants may seat no more than four people at tables indoors and six people at outdoor tables, including private events.
“As we continue to take critical steps to continue to mitigate the spread of [the coronavirus], we also recognize that this pandemic has taken a significant toll on the food services industry, so we must balance public health and economic recovery,” Wolf said in a statement. “These orders give restaurants the ability to increase indoor occupancy safely while giving customers confidence when deciding to patronize a restaurant.”
The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association said the order did not go far enough to return the industry to the standards in place before July 15. In a statement, president John Longstreet said the PRLA advocates for normal operating hours, eliminating the meal requirement, and the ban on bar seating. The Pennsylvania Senate is expected to vote next week on House Bill 2513, which addresses those issues.