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May 21, 2020

Pennsylvania bars, restaurants now permitted to sell takeout cocktails

Wolf signs law aimed at boosting business amid COVID-19 shutdown

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Cocktails to-go Pennsylvania Kobby Mendez/via Unsplash

Cocktails can now be purchased for takeout and delivery across Pennsylvania during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pennsylvania residents can now grab a takeout cocktail from their neighborhood bar. At least until the COVID-19 crisis passes, anyway.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Thursday allowing some bars, restaurants and hotels to temporarily sell to-go cocktails. The law takes effect immediately. 

Any establishment that has experienced a 25% decline in average monthly sales during the coronavirus shutdown can begin offering the drinks. Beverages must be sold before 11 p.m. in containers with a secure lid. An additional seal is required on the straw opening of a lid. Drink quantities must fall between 4 to 64 ounces. 

The law will expire when the COVID-19 disaster emergency is lifted and a businesses reaches 60% capacity. Pennsylvania’s open container law remains in effect.

Pennsylvania, known for strict alcohol restrictions, has never before permitted takeout cocktails. 

“This new temporary rule creates more business for bars and restaurants when they need it, helps to meet customer demand and supports social distancing,” Wolf said in a statement. “As we approach the holiday weekend, I encourage all Pennsylvanians to remember to drink responsibly.”

Establishments are required to use a transaction scan device within 60 days to verify a customer’s age if he or she appears to be younger than 35 years old.

The legislation was primarily sponsored by State Rep. Perry Warren, of Bucks County.

"Our local restaurants are working hard to feed our communities during this difficult time," Warren said in a statement. "Act 21 both streamlines the process for residents to decide whether to permit alcohol sales in a ‘dry’ municipality and allows restaurants to add another product for their customers for curbside pickup and takeout during this crisis. I thank Gov. Wolf and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this bill."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed similar legislation last week authorizing the sale of alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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