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September 18, 2020

Pennsylvania moves last call for alcoholic drinks to 11 p.m.

New cut-off designed to limit extended gatherings in restaurants

Business Restaurants
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Gov. Tom Wolf signed on order allowing bars and restaurants to increase indoor dining capacity to 50% beginning Monday, Sept. 21. It also sets last call for alcohol sales at 11 p.m.

Pennsylvania's new last call will be one hour later than Gov. Tom Wolf initially indicated when his administration announced plans to permit restaurants to expand indoor dining capacity. 

Restaurants and bars can increase their indoor capacities to 50% beginning Monday, but alcohol sales must be cut off at 11 p.m. each night. Patrons must finish their drinks by midnight.

Wolf signed an order formalizing the changes Thursday. The order is meant to prevent extended gatherings amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The 11 p.m. cutoff will apply to all restaurants and bars – not just those that choose to increase their indoor capacities. To be served alcohol, patrons will still be required to order food. 

"These orders give restaurants the ability to increase indoor occupancy safely while giving customers confidence when deciding to patronize a restaurant," Wolf said in a statement.

The Wolf administration initially planned to limit alcohol sales at 10 p.m. But state officials amended their plans after restaurant owners complained that it would hamper business, particularly when sporting events ran late, PennLive reported.

There are no changes to requirements for the temporary sale of to-go cocktails and takeout alcohol sales. 

Restaurants and bars that want to increase their indoor capacities must enroll in a "self-certification" process that requires them to sign documents pledging to adhere to the state's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. 

Self-certifying businesses will be added to an online database, dubbed Open & Certified Pennsylvania and designed to help people identify restaurants that are complying with coronavirus guidelines. They will be given signage to hang on storefronts indicating their compliance. 

Self-certification documents will be available Monday. They include the following items: 

• A list of requirements contained in the current restaurant industry guidance and enforcement efforts.
• A statement that the owner has reviewed and agreed to follow those requirements.
• The establishment's maximum indoor occupancy number based on the fire code.
• A statement that the owner understands that the certification is subject to penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities.

Restaurants that expand indoor capacity should complete the self-certification process by Oct. 5, the date enforcement will begin. Self-certification will remain available after Oct. 5.  

Restaurants are required to comply with social distancing, face covering and sanitizing requirements. 

Indoor dining reopened in Philadelphia at 25% on Sept. 8 – several months after it returned elsewhere in the state. City officials have not indicated whether they will allow restaurants to expand capacity Monday. 

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