November 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In yet another devastating blow to small business owners, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf banned bars and restaurants from selling alcohol on one of the most profitable evenings of the year, the night before Thanksgiving.
“For bars and restaurants, this night has the potential to be as big as St. Patrick’s Day or Super Bowl Sunday,” explained Upserve.com. “The informal holiday got its nickname ‘Drinksgiving’ from the uptick in bar patrons joining together after months — or years — to indulge in their drink of choice before celebrating Thanksgiving. With practically everyone having Thanksgiving Day off work and no reason to wake up before football, it’s clear why this night has become a cultural phenomenon.”
Not so in Pennsylvania this year. Instead, alcohol sales will be prohibited from 5 p.m. Wednesday night until 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, which won't help restaurant owners recover any losses from Wolf’s earlier lockdowns.
Pennsylvania restaurants that survived earlier lockdown measures have been operating at 25 percent to 50 percent capacity.
Restaurants have already been banned from serving alcohol after 10 p.m. since summer. Additional restrictions include no alcohol sales without the purchase of meals, no barstools or seating around bar areas, and a requirement to complete an online self-certification vowing to comply to all public health safety guidelines and orders for restaurants that want to expand to 50 percent from 25 percent seating capacity.
The 10 p.m. alcohol curfew imposed during the summer was already hurting businesses. The Morning Call reported that pub owner Bert Charlie complained that Wolf’s move meant establishments whose main revenue is alcohol sales would have little chance to make money after 10 p.m.
“It is really going to hurt the small barroom,” said Charlie, whose business is in Whitehall Township.
He quipped, “What Gov. Wolf is saying is coronavirus will disappear but then come back at 10 p.m.”
Now, struggling businesses have to contend with this latest setback because Wolf apparently believes banning alcohol at bars the night before Thanksgiving can control the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.
“That’s what we should be focused on, not whether we want to get transitory benefit from going out with friends … and having some drinks,” Wolf said. “Let’s forgo that this one time, and if we do that and all these other things, we’re going to get back to life as we really want to and go to the bar anytime we want.”
Wolf has forced no such drastic mitigation efforts on shopping malls or stores such as Target and Walmart, which have significantly increased foot traffic during the holidays – and especially on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association issued a statement after Wolf’s latest restrictions. “We get the importance of the keeping patrons safe, and our industry works hard to do so every day,” it said. “But what we don’t get is why there has been no significant financial help to assist our small business taverns and licensed restaurants survive. As this crisis continues, more small businesses are closing while their employees lose jobs.”