As soon as I was of drinking age, and working in the bar business, we always heard that New Year’s Eve, Halloween, and Thanksgiving Eve were the best and busiest nights of boozing in the fiscal calendar year. You planned your season, your earnings, on these dates, and ordered accordingly.
If it wasn’t enough, last week, that Mayor Kenney has made it so that dining indoors wouldn’t occur from now until the first week of January 2021, and that outdoor dining would be limited to an antiquated nuclear family ideal of four people per table, Pennsylvania State Health Secretary Rachel Levine just implemented several restrictions for the thanksgiving holiday. This includes a stay at home advisory and a ban on alcohol sales at bars and restaurants – that those sales must cease at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve, one of the busiest nights of the year for the service industry.
Present Pennsylvania state guidelines have made it so that on-site consumption of alcohol must end at 11 p.m., with all alcoholic beverages removed from a drinker’s cold dead hands by midnight. This new order effectively cuts off another six hours of alcohol sales – making this Wednesday’s happy hour more like a horror hour.
All fresh orders will be enforced by law enforcement and could result in regulatory consequences for those restaurant and bar owners deemed repeat offenders.
During a press conference, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said, “I think you all know the commonwealth is a precarious place right now.”
Maybe so. But things don’t get less precarious, personally, without a cocktail or two.
In response to Governor Wolf’s statement on Monday, John Longstreet, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association offered this:
“With rising case counts, hospitalizations, and transmission rates, we understand the Administration’s need to take additional steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. Even though we’re disappointed in the further mitigation on private events and the Wednesday night alcohol curfew, we are relieved that the Administration did not recommend any additional long-term mitigation on restaurants.
While the PRLA fully supports efforts to prevent the spread of COVID and protect potential diners, hospitality employees, and business owners, we believe today’s order will have unintended negatively grave consequences. The shutting down of alcohol service in prime dinner hours will encourage unregulated, unsafe group gatherings in private homes where safety protocols including social distancing and mask wearing is not adhered to or completely ignored.
Today’s order goes even farther and limits indoor events to 10 percent of capacity and outdoor events at 15 percent with no foreseeable relief. With the announcement of increased enforcement, something we have encouraged since reopening in June, reducing event capacity has the potential to drive gatherings away from mitigated locations subject to enforcement, thus increasing the risk of spread.
While we understand these efforts are put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, our organization is pleading with the governor’s office to work with the PA state legislature, to provide relief for our industry.”