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Theodore J. Zeller III
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Pennsylvania’s COVID Christmas Closure 2020

Pennsylvania COVID-19 Coronavirus Violations - Christmas Closure

Beginning tonight, just after midnight, all indoor dining and consumption of alcohol at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries will be prohibited under new orders issued by Governor Wolf on December 10, 2020. These facilities will still be allowed to serve customers via curbside, take-out, delivery, and outdoor dining and alcohol service through this holiday season. Late last evening, the Pennsylvania Department of Health also issued Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) to clear up some of the confusion associated with these new orders, especially when you attempt to reconcile them with prior orders and other guidance.

PA Department of Health FAQs

While inside dining will be prohibited, outdoor dining remains viable. The latest FAQs from the Department of Health have altered the definition of what is considered indoor versus outdoor dining. A tent or other enclosed structure will still be considered “outdoor” so long as two sides are “open.” We have not seen a definition for “open” but would imagine that a significant portion of the sides remaining “open” would meet these requirements.

The Department of Health FAQs also contained a limitation that outdoor dining is limited to 50% capacity. Where there is no fire code rating or published occupancy number to compute your 50% capacity, the FAQs provide a limit of 25 people per 1000 square feet. All these limitations for outdoor dining are confined to what constitutes “licensed premises.” Your licensed premises comprise an area approved in the normal course by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board or through the Emergency COVID Outdoor Temporary Permits. To the extent your customer “take-out” alcoholic beverages and food to unlicensed premises, the occupancy is not limited.

A COVID Christmas Closure

Governor Wolf announced these new mitigation orders to combat widespread COVID infections and hospitalizations in the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the year of COVID Christmas is upon us and we can look forward to the New Year and a vaccine. The new orders are expected to remain in effect through January 4, 2021, and we will continue to provide updates.

For information regarding national and state liquor law matters or general manufacturing and distribution advice, please contact our Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution Practice Group: Liquor Law Department Chair Theodore J. Zeller III, Esquire (tzeller@norris-law.com); David C. Berger, Esquire (dberger@norris-law.com) for Pennsylvania and New Jersey retail and manufacturing licensing; or contact our offices at 610-391-1800.

The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counselFor more topics related to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.

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Theodore J. Zeller III
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Theodore J. Zeller III
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