HARRISBURG – An industry already ravaged by the COVID-19 mitigation efforts was dealt another blow Monday when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced bars and restaurants may not serve alcohol after 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve.
The order was part of a series of orders and advisories announced Monday, the second such series set forth in less than a week as the state deals with a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.
“All sale or dispensing of alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption at businesses in the
retail food services industry, including bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs and private catered events must cease no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25, 2020,” the order reads. “On that date, no patron may possess alcoholic beverages within such businesses after 6:00 p.m.”
Take-out sales may continue Wednesday, and on-site sales and consumption may resume Thursday, according to the order.
The night before Thanksgiving, alternately known as “Drinksgiving,” is traditionally a big night for those in the alcohol service industry. According to a report on Upserve, 2019 Thanksgiving Eve sales in bars and restaurants were up 31 percent nationally from the previous Wednesday. That number rose to 34 percent in Pennsylvania.
According to a report on Womply, restaurants sales, nationally, are down 26 percent as of Nov. 9, while bars are down eight percent.
“You folks, through no fault of your own, have been hit hardest by this virus,” Wolf said.
Wolf also announced more stringent gathering restrictions. Indoor events are still limited to a percent of occupancy, but no more than 500 are permitted at one time regardless of occupancy limit. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum 2,500 people.
Bars and restaurants may continue to operate at the 50 percent limit, if they have completed the state’s self-certification process, or 25 percent if they have not.
“This is one of the many steps that we’re taking to say, ‘If we all do this, together, we’re gonna defeat this virus,'” Wolf said.