September 18th, 2020

Update to PA Restrictions on Bars and Restaurants: Expand Capacity to 50%, Stop Serving by 11:00

Pennsylvania’s ever-changing merry-go-round of restrictions for bar and restaurant owners continues. In our previous update, located here, we provided information regarding Governor Wolf’s proposed Order. At the time, the proposed Order would have required the termination of alcohol sales at 10:00 p.m., but would increase capacity to Fifty Percent (50%) after a new self-certification process. As of Thursday, September 17, 2020, Governor Wolf signed a new Order, located here. This new Order amended the Governor’s prior July 15, 2020 Order, located here, which restricted capacity in bars and restaurants to Twenty-Five Percent (25%) capacity, required sit down meal service and prohibited bar service. Read to learn more about the latest PA restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Self-certification process

As was addressed in our previous article, under the new Order, bars and restaurants will have the ability to increase their seating capacity to Fifty Percent (50%) via a new self-certification process. Click here to access PA’s “Certify My Restaurant” website.

Any bar or restaurant that wishes to increase its indoor capacity to Fifty Percent (50%) on September 21 must complete an online self-certification process by October 5. Pennsylvania has provided a FAQ about this program, which is located here.

To self-certify, the following will be required:

  1. a statement that the restaurant owner has reviewed and agrees to follow PA’s current restaurant industry safety guidance;
  2. the restaurant’s maximum indoor occupancy number based on local fire code; and
  3. a statement that the owner understands that the certification is subject to penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities.

If the self-certification is completed, the bar or restaurant will be placed on a website certifying that such establishment is in compliance with the Order.

Alcohol service

Previously, Governor Wolf had stated that alcohol service would be restricted until 10:00 p.m.  But, upon review of the current Order, alcohol service must terminate at 11:00 p.m., instead of Governor Wolf’s prior missives. Importantly, this does not alleviate the need for food service to be accompanied with the sale of alcohol.

Additionally, we note that this new Order still does not allow for the seating of patrons at a bar for alcohol service or food service. The portion of Governor Wolf’s July 15, 2020 Order stating, “All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited,” is still in effect.

Moreover, a bar or restaurant owner does not have to self-certify. However, based on the Order, that bar or restaurant will remain confined to a Twenty-Five Percent (25%) capacity.

If you are a restaurant or bar owner who would like help in interpreting the myriad of regulations affecting your business, the attorneys of Gross McGinley, LLP are here to help you.

Attorneys Jason A. Ulrich, Thomas E. Reilly, Jr. and Ross Ramaley practice in Gross McGinley’s Business Services Group, providing legal counsel to regionally and nationally-held businesses.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.