Restaurant owners question Governor Wolf’s 5 p.m. alcohol cut in biggest night out at the bar
Restaurant owners say they don’t know how a 5 p.m. alcohol break on one of the biggest bar parties of the year will help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Already, the last call for bars and dining establishments in Pennsylvania is 11pm. In addition, nightclubs are not allowed to operate.
“That does not make sense. All you’ve done is target an industry and push it over the edge. People are going to go elsewhere, ”said Bill Kokos, owner of the Sierra Madre Saloon in the Township of Hampden.
At a press conference with Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, Secretary of Health Dr Rachel Levine announced today liquor sales will end at 5 p.m. for one day only – Wednesday, November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. This is one of the biggest bar and restaurant nights alongside New Years Eve and St. Patrick’s Day.
“Turns out the biggest day to drink is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Wolf said. “And when people get together in this situation, it leads to increased fluid exchange, which leads to increased infection.”
In addition, the administration announced several new measures, called “targeted” steps, including certification of school districts that remain open and a greater emphasis on companies allowing employees to work from home. Wolf also advised residents to stay home when possible and to refrain from travel while on vacation.
For restaurateurs like Flinchy’s Matt Flinchbaugh in Lower Allen Township, the 5 p.m. cutoff adds another level of frustration, already placed on an industry that has been hit hard.
“It didn’t change anything other than our bottom line,” he said of Levine. “She has done nothing but take money from us when we have no money.”
Among Flinchbaugh’s concerns is a lack of retail limits on November 27 for Black Friday. The day marks the start of the holiday shopping season.
Flinchbaugh said last weekend he encountered long lines at some big box stores, which he considered unfair.
“Are you going to restrict us and not a single restriction on retail for the biggest holidays, the biggest day of the year?” he said.
- READ MORE: Pennsylvania restaurant / bar owners ask Governor Wolf for financial help and plan to reopen
Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus spokesman Jason Gottesman echoed Flinchbaugh’s concerns.
“As Pennsylvanians prepare for Black Friday shopping at big box retailers without any restrictions by Governor Wolf’s new orders, bars and restaurants will be left behind under heavier capacity limitations. to do business during what should be a robust holiday season, ”he said in a statement.
Kokos said he was unsure how ending alcohol sales at 5 p.m., just six hours before the current 11 p.m. last call, would help eliminate the spread of the virus. Diners can still eat and order soft drinks, while some will likely turn to house parties, where mitigation measures will not be enforced, he said.
“You could end up exasperating the situation,” Kokos said.
In addition, he asked if places like convenience stores would still be allowed to sell beer and wine after 5 p.m.
Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, said the industry understands that COVID-19 cases are on the rise and that he “is urged to sacrifice himself in order to play a role in saving the lives of Pennsylvanians.”
However, Moran said the industry does not understand why it is not receiving significant financial assistance to help licensed taverns and restaurants.
“As this crisis continues, more and more small businesses are closing and their employees are losing their jobs,” Moran said. “Help is needed now, not later. Many small businesses cannot maintain continuous targeted mitigation without federal or state government assistance. “