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Hospitality Industry: Listen to the Governor

Published on

March 20, 2020

With the governor’s new order to close all non-life-essential businesses, bars and restaurants across Pennsylvania remain on lock-down and are not allowed to serve alcohol or food on-site.

If they do, it could cost them their liquor license.

Gov. Tom Wolf originally shut down bars and restaurants in the Philadelphia area, and then on Monday extended the shutdown of dine-in service throughout the state. In Thursday’s order for all non-life-essential businesses to shut down, Wolf reiterated the closure of bars and restaurants, though the exception of offering take-out food remains available.

This followed Wednesday’s order from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that mandated liquor license holders such as restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and hotels, to no longer serve food or alcohol on premises, although take-out sales of alcohol is permitted. Clubs are permitted to sell food (but not alcohol) to go. Ordinarily, holders of these licenses would be required to offer food as a precondition for take-out alcohol sales. Beer distributors may continue regular operations.

The PLCB further indicated that failure to follow these orders could result in citations and enforcement actions against the licensee and its license, and stated “[u]ltimately, citations may put the business’s liquor license at risk, both through the citation process and upon application for renewal to the PLCB” and that any person who violates the order “may be charged criminally with a misdemeanor.” The State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement has agreed to notify PLCB of any citations.

We encourage all of our clients with questions regarding these orders to contact me or any member of our Hospitality Industry Group. In the event of any doubt, err on the side of keeping dining areas closed, even for clients that purchase alcohol “to go” and bring their own food.

Also as additional information, Barley Snyder partner and employment attorney Michael Crocenzi presented a webinar for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association on unemployment compensation. The firm’s Employment Practice Group has been following all of the latest coronavirus-related changes in employment regulations and can help you with any questions you have.

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