As everyone kicks off the the 2020 Memorial Day Weekend under various levels of stay at home orders, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 327, now Act 21 of 2020, allowing the temporary sale of cocktails-to-go from bars, restaurants or hotels with a liquor license.The bill was signed May 21, 2020 and became effective upon signing.

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

Who is Eligible?

Only hotel and restaurant license holders who have lost at least 25% of their average monthly sales because of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 emergency declaration and who are offering meals to go may sell prepared beverages and mixed drinks to go. Privately held public golf course liquor licenses (PGR), continuing care retirement community liquor licenses (CCRC) and airport restaurant liquor licenses (AR) are considered restaurant liquor licenses and each may sell prepared beverages and mixed drinks to go if they otherwise qualify to do so.

The Act does not define what constitutes a meal for purposes of these temporary changes.  Section 406 of the Liquor Code defines a meal as food sufficient to constitute breakfast, lunch or dinner; a snack such as pretzels, popcorn, chips or similar food is not sufficient as a meal. The Board believes this standard is to be applied to these temporary authorities as well.  However, a meal purchase is not required in order to purchase prepared beverages and mixed drinks under this temporary authority.

There is no application to apply, licensees should ensure their sales record reflect  meeting the reduced sales requirement.

What are the Rules?

  • The beverages must be sold in containers with a secure lid, an additional seal is required on the straw opening of a lid.
  • Permitted hours –  Monday-Saturday 7am – 11pm; 9am – 11pm on Sundays.
  • Within 60 days, bars and restaurants must use a transaction scan device to verify a consumer’s age if the person appears to be younger than 35 years of age.
  • A “prepared beverage and mixed drink” is defined as a sealed container holding between 4 and 64 fluid ounces of spirits (liquor) and mixer that have been combined at the licensed
  • Delivery is still not authorized.
  • A customer may purchase as many prepared beverages and mixed drinks as they wish.
  • Any licensee selling prepared beverages and mixed drinks to go shall prominently post a warning sign that is at least 8 ½” by 11” on the licensed premises within 48 hours of the licensee beginning to sell prepared beverages and mixed drinks, reminding customers that it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol while in a vehicle. The warning sign must further note that prepared beverages and mixed drinks packaged for sale by the licensee are open containers and may only be transported in the vehicle’s trunk or in some other area of the vehicle that is not occupied by the driver or passengers.
  • Curbside service of wine and beer are not authorized by the Act and
    remain illegal. To-go purchases of beer and wine must continue to occur on the licensed premise and are only permissible if they are made in compliance with the Liquor Code. For beer, this means no more than 192 ounces per sale; for wine sold to go by holders of wine expanded permits, this means no more than 3 liters per sale, with such sales occurring only
    at approved registers.

“Our local restaurants are working hard to feed our communities during this difficult time,” said Rep. Perry Warren. “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 Governor Wolf and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this bill.”

The temporary rule expires after the COVID-19 disaster emergency ends and a business reaches 60 percent capacity.

Pennsylvania’s open container law applies.

View additional information from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Source:  Governor /Wolf Press Relief; PLCB FAQ