May 25, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for Pennsylvania Food and Beverage Businesses

March 16, 2020, 2:00 PM: ALL COUNTIES NOW INCLUDED: Governor Wolf has required all non-essential businesses, such as restaurants, bars, and non-supermarket/gas station retail locations to close for on-premises sales across the Commonwealth. It appears that to-go, curbside and delivery sales are still permitted by food and beverage businesses. We have confirmed that Liquor Control Enforcement will be policing these restrictions, and are working to confirm other details around these closures.

March 16, 2020, 1:30 PM: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has required all businesses, other than supermarkets, big box stores, pharmacies, daycare centers, hardware stores, gas stations, banks, and vets, to close after 5:00 PM on Monday, March 16, until Friday, March 27. Food and beverage businesses such as restaurants, breweries, and bars, can still offer online or to-go sales but may not offer on-premises sales. This is consistent with the actions Governor Wolf took last night for the four counties surrounding Philadelphia.

March 16, 2020, 1:00 PM: Just posted on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) website regarding the planned opening of Tenth Restaurant License Auction Bids on 3/19/20: NOTE REGARDING BID OPENING FOR TENTH RESTAURANT LICENSE AUCTION: As mitigation efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 intensify, the PLCB has indefinitely suspended the bid opening for the tenth restaurant license auction. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

March 16, 2020, 10:30 AM: We were just notified by a PLCB investigator that the PLCB and Commonwealth have shutdown most non-essential meetings and fieldwork, such as PLCB investigations with no timetable for such work to resume. If you have any pending investigations, they will be put on hold until business resumes as usual. Many PLCB investigators work from home, so it will be interesting to see if they handle investigations remotely. Regardless, there will be a delay in getting applications approved due to this shutdown.

March 15, 2020, 10:00 PM: Governor Wolf has required the termination of all on-premises sales and consumption at food and beverage retail businesses in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties as of 12:00 AM on March 15, 2020, for at least two weeks. To-go, curbside, and delivery sales may continue as posted above.

March 14, 2020: The PLCB announced the phased closure of all Fine Wine & Good Spirit Stores in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties beginning on Tuesday, March 17, ironically on St. Patrick’s Day. While this order currently only affects those stores in those counties, such closures may spread to additional stores along with the possible continued spread of the virus.

Pennsylvania Coronavirus (COVID-19) Closure and Liquor License Compliance Tips

Safekeeping

  • If you will be closed or not operating your business for more than 15 consecutive days, the Pennsylvania Liquor Code and PLCB regulations require you to place your liquor license in safekeeping via PLCB+. There is no fee to place your license in safekeeping and there is no investigation upon releasing your license within 90 days of placing it in safekeeping. The fee to release your license is $50 if released before 90 days or $150 if released after 90 days. The PLCB recommends you file to release your license from safekeeping at least 30 days prior to your planned opening date.

  • If you will be operating as a to-go, curbside or delivery business, you will technically be open and do not need to place your license in safekeeping. Additionally, if you open for to-go, curbside, or delivery sales before you are closed for a total of 15 consecutive days, then you do not need to put your license in safekeeping. Essentially, if you will be closed with no sales for more than 15 consecutive days, then your license must be placed in safekeeping.

  • You must continue to renew or validate your liquor license.

  • Your license may remain in safekeeping for a period of two years without incurring any additional fees.

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About this Author

Matthew B. Andersen Corporate Business & Liquor Law Attorney Norris Mclaughlin Law Firm Pennsylvania
Associate

Matthew B. Andersen concentrates his practice on business law and liquor law.

In his liquor law practice, Matt works with all tiers of the alcohol industry, advising manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers.  Matt assists breweries, distilleries, wineries, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, and hotels on obtaining and transferring liquor licenses, obtaining state and federal manufacturing permits and licensing, complying with federal/state liquor regulations and laws, providing transactional counseling, and defending citations and protests...

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