Red, Yellow and Green: The Stoplight Rules of Outdoor Dining with Alcohol Service in PA
As we move forward in our continuing series of articles regarding the newly modified rules for Pennsylvania Liquor License holders, it’s good to see that for many license holders, the process of reopening is slowly starting to begin. For PA bars and restaurants in counties moving from “Red” to “Yellow,” or “Yellow” to “Green,” read on to see what these stoplight rules mean for outdoor alcohol service in PA as it relates to the newly permissive outdoor dining rules.
Permanent vs. permissible
As we mentioned in our prior blog post on this topic, Pennsylvania has now permitted cocktails to go. However, at this time, based on Act 21, this is not a permanent measure, and there are some restrictions for every “R” and “H” license holder to know about.
However, as Pennsylvania largely moves from “Red” to “Yellow,” PLCB has issued some new guidance about their new policy of permissible and expanded usage of exterior spaces for the sale of food and alcohol, located here.
Outdoor vs. indoor
Because many of us live in areas that have moved to “Yellow” on June 5, 2020, this means that exterior service of food an alcohol is permissible under Governor Wolf’s phased opening plan. However, pursuant to Governor Wolf’s guidelines, the interior service of food and drink will only be permitted when the County in question has reached the “Green” phase. What’s important to note for most License Holders, is that as long as you’re in the “Yellow” phase, interior sales of alcohol or restaurant service, and make such sales could possibly put your Liquor License in jeopardy.
Based on the Governor’s structure of reopening, the PLCB is now allowing liquor license holders to apply for an emergency temporary extension to their licensed premises to outdoor areas that are adjacent and contiguous with their operating premises and are under the control of the licensee, or in cases such as public sidewalks, the appropriate municipality has approved the use for the space for outdoor dining. This is being done on an expedited basis without the three-day wait period and without requiring licensees to pay the $220 filing fee. There are some questions as to how these outdoor extensions will ultimately function and interact with food service, but, good legal advice can help you navigate these treacherous waters.
Three things to know
Based on this Advisory Opinion from the PLCB, there are three (3) key factors of which each License Holder should be aware:
- PLCB is waiving the application fee for the exterior premises extension;
- PLCB is waiving the typical thirty (30) day waiting period usually required for review of the extension; and
- Once the License Holder has submitted their application, they must keep and print their electronic verification for public view.
This area of the law is changing for us more quickly than it ever has in our lifetimes. We at Gross McGinley will continue to monitor the changes in the law and keep you updated on topics like rules of outdoor dining and alcohol service in PA. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions regarding your liquor license needs.