On March 16, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars in Allegheny County and the four counties ringing Philadelphia to close their dine-in facilities due to COVID-19’s rapid spread just a day before one of the busiest bar nights of the year — St. Patrick’s Day. Almost exactly one year later, as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccination rates climb, on March 15, Gov. Wolf announced that Pennsylvania will lift some targeted restrictions on hospitality and other businesses, as well as increase gathering limits, beginning April 4.
Hospitality Restrictions to Be Lifted in Pennsylvania
The relief is three weeks away, meaning bars and restaurants will still have to live with the current limits during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the NCAA Tournament’s March Madness. Effective April 4, the following hospitality restrictions will be lifted:
- Restaurants may resume bar service
- Alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food
- The curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables by 11:00 PM will be lifted
- Indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75% for restaurants that are currently self-certified or that undergo the self-certification process and 50% for restaurants that have not self-certified
The self-certification process involves agreeing to strictly comply with all public health safety guidelines and orders, including the cleaning and mitigation protocols and other operational requirements contained in the Governor and Secretary of Health’s mitigation and enforcement orders issued November 23, 2020, as amended. As previously noted, restaurants that do not self-certify may raise indoor capacity to 50%. Outdoor dining, curbside pick-up, and takeout are still encouraged. Requirements such as mask-wearing and social distancing, including six feet between diners, also still apply.
Other Pennsylvania COVID-19 Restrictions to Be Lifted
Restaurants will not be the only businesses that see a lift on restrictions. Beginning April 4, gyms and entertainment facilities including casinos, theatres, and malls will be allowed to operate at 75% occupancy. Gov. Wolf also announced revised maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 25% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size, and maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events to allow for 50% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. Maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
While the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has yet to release its updated guidance for these updated restrictions, we do expect that to be in place by April 4. As has been common over the last year, the PLCB’s guidance will likely remain mostly the same and simply update the restrictions to match what is currently in place.
For information regarding national and state liquor law matters or general manufacturing and distribution advice, please contact our Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution Practice Group: Liquor Law Department Chair Theodore J. Zeller III, Esquire (firstname.lastname@example.org); David C. Berger, Esquire (email@example.com) for Pennsylvania and New Jersey retail and manufacturing licensing; or contact our offices at 610-391-1800.
The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel. For more topics related to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.