Due to the inventiveness shown by some restaurants in trying to ease the Gov. Tom Wolf´s rule which states that for dine-in service, customers could only get alcohol if they ordered a meal, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is clarifying the official new coronavirus restrictions for selling alcohol at bars and restaurants.
8WGAL reported that some restaurants were offering orders like “3 french fries” or a few potato chips as a meal. Now Wolf’s administration is clarifying that restaurants and bars cannot do that.It says alcohol can only be served with a meal.
The term “meal” is defined in section 406 of the PLCBP as “food prepared on the premises, sufficient to constitute breakfast, lunch or dinner.” The definition expressly states that a snack, such as pretzels, popcorn, chips, or similar food, does not meet the definition of a meal.
It was explained also that under the heightened restrictions, customers cannot buy more alcohol after they have finished eating.
Casinos, which are open in the green phase, can no longer serve alcohol on the casino floor.
The Wolf administration says the reason for the new rules is to limit indoor gatherings because COVID-19 can more easily spread when people are together inside.
Pennsylvania state police are doing enforcement checks on liquor establishments. On Monday and Tuesday, state police issued 13 warnings to establishments in the Susquehanna Valley for not following the state guidelines.
The clarifying PLCB guidance for restaurant, retail dispenser, and hotel licensees (whether offering indoor or outdoor seating); club and catering club licensees; brewery, distillery, limited distillery, winery, and limited winery licensees; and golf course licensees is summarized below:
- Sales of alcohol for on-premises consumption are only permissible as part of a larger transaction that includes a meal purchase. The term “meal” is defined in section 406 of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code as “food prepared on the premises, sufficient to constitute breakfast, lunch or dinner.” The definition expressly states that a snack, such as pretzels, popcorn, chips, or similar food, does not meet the definition of a meal.
- A customer who wishes to consume alcohol on premise must also purchase a meal; a group of customers who wish to consume alcohol on premises may do so as long as a meal is part of the purchase made by the group.
- Additional drinks may be purchased while the customer is consuming the meal, but no further drinks may be purchased after the meal is finished.
- Bar service of food and/or alcohol is prohibited.
- For Pennsylvania manufacturers (breweries, distilleries, and wineries), meals may be provided by the licensee or by a third party, such as a food truck.
- Casinos may no longer provide drink service on the casino floor.
- If a club does not sell food, either directly or through a concessionaire, it cannot use its liquor license.
- The governor’s additional order directing targeted mitigation measures specifically prohibits businesses that meet the definition of a “nightclub” under the Clear Indoor Air Act from operating.
For restaurants and bars, social distancing, mask-wearing and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.
In addition, occupancy is limited to 25 percent of the fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a specific indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.