Pennsylvania is one step closer to allowing many bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks for takeout, joining other states that are loosening restrictions on alcohol sales during coronavirus shutdowns.
The practice, which would be temporary, has never been legal in Pennsylvania.
The state House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that, in part, would allow mixed-drink sales by bars and restaurants that have lost 25% or more of their business. The bill is headed for the Senate.
“This would help restaurants and bars by giving them another product to sell, and maybe lead to [increased] food sales,” said Rep. Perry Warren, the bill’s sponsor and a Democrat who represents Newtown, Yardley, Lower Makefield, and Morrisville.
Takeout drink sales would be permitted only during the COVID-19 disaster emergency and during the mitigation period after the termination of the disaster emergency in which a licensee is operating at less than 60% capacity, the legislation says.
Pennsylvania’s state-owned liquor stores, meanwhile, reopened after a nearly monthlong shutdown ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf.
“Sporadic e-commerce and limited curbside pickup of distilled spirits are measures that will help alleviate some of the problems caused by Gov. Wolf’s decision to close all spirits stores in March, but it won’t solve them,” said David Wojnar, vice president of state government relations at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, in a statement. He called the House’s move “a commonsense solution."
The amendment defines a mixed drink as a sealed container of no greater than 64 ounces. A lid with sipping holes or opening for straws must be capped with an additional seal. Sales must be completed by 11 p.m.