Gov. Wolf signs bill allowing cocktails-to-go at Pa. establishments

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Governor Tom Wolf has signed a bill Thursday which allows the temporary sale of cocktails-to-go from bars, restaurants, or hotels with a liquor license.

Act 21 of 2020 takes effect immediately.

"This new temporary rule creates more business for bars and restaurants when they need it, helps to meet customer demand and supports social distancing," Wolf said in a release from his office. "As we approach the holiday weekend, I encourage all Pennsylvanians to remember to drink responsibly."

The governor's office said the law applies to bars, restaurants and hotels that have lost 25 percent of average monthly total sales during the COVID-19 emergency.

The prepared beverages and mixed drinks must be sold in containers with a secure lid in quantities from 4 oz. to 64 oz. An additional seal is required on the straw opening of a lid.

Establishments can sell the drinks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, if they have a Sunday Sales Permit. Payment may occur at curbside.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board says a customer may purchase as many prepared beverages and mixed drinks as they wish. However, a customer cannot drink from the container while still at the business. If the business allows the customer to leave the premises after opening the container, it could lead to a citation.

According to the board, these are examples of drinks that do not fall under Act 21:

- A mixed drink containing both wine and liquor (because wine is not a spirit).

- An unopened bottle of liquor (because it was not combined at the licensed premises with a mixer).

- An unopened bottle of ready-to-drink cocktail purchased from a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store (because it was not combined at the licensed premises with a mixer).

- A gallon jug of rum and soda (because it is more than 64 ounces).

- 8 ounces of rum put in a container (because it was not combined with a mixer)

Within 60 days, bars and restaurants must use a transaction scan device to verify a consumer's age if the person appears to be younger than 35 years of age.

According to the Liquor Control Board, a meal order is not required in order to purchase cocktails-to-go under this temporary authority.

The temporary rule expires after the COVID-19 disaster emergency ends and a business reaches 60 percent capacity.

Officials said Pennsylvania's open container law applies.

Any establishment selling cocktails-to-go must post a warning sign that is at least 8 " by 11" within 48 hours of the licensee beginning to sell the drinks, reminding customers that it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol while in a vehicle. It must also say that the beverages may only be transported in the vehicle's trunk or another area of the vehicle that is not occupied by the driver or passengers.

ONLINE: Additional information from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

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