Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

State adds pressure to ban on-premises consumption in bars, restaurants

A sign on the door of McGrath’s Pub on Tuesday, stating that only takeout is allowed.

The state has turned up the heat on non-compliant businesses, threatening bars and restaurants with liquor license citations if they refuse to stop consumption inside their establishments.

All businesses carrying liquor licenses must cease on-premises consumption of food and beverages by 8 p.m. on Wednesday until further notice, according to the PA Liquor Control Board.

“Medical experts and public health professionals from around the world agree the best step we can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stop gathering in public spaces,” said PLCB Chairman Tim Holden.

Licensees that fail to comply risk citation and suspension of operating authority, according to the PLCB. Ultimately, citations could put the business’s liquor license at risk, both through the citation process and upon application for renewal, the PLCB stated.

In Harrisburg, most restaurants and bars shut down either late last week or on Monday, after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all “non-essential” stores closed.

Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day, which typically means overflow crowds at Harrisburg’s many bars and restaurants. However, with bars closed, downtown was deserted.

Bars and restaurants can continue to offer takeout service, which many are doing.

In addition, yesterday, all state-owned Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores closed until further notice. According to the state, beer distributors can continue to operate, but are encouraged to practice “social distancing” and limit store traffic to fewer than 10 customers at a time.

Other places to purchase alcoholic beverages for carryout include license-holding markets and convenience stores, as well as breweries, wineries and distilleries.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and this decision is not made lightly,” Holden said. “But saving lives and protecting the health and safety of our communities is our highest priority right now.”

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