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copabanana-alcohol-license
The liquor license fee waiver would collectively save owners of 16,000 Pennsylvania restaurants and bars $20 million. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board are working to waive liquor license fees to provide relief for restaurants and bars.

On Oct. 22, Wolf announced at a news conference that the liquor license fee waiver would collectively save owners of 16,000 restaurants and bars $20 million and alleviate the economic burden from the COVID-19 pandemic, CBS Philly reported. The proposal would be effective starting Jan. 1, 2021, and last until the end of the year, according to the press release.

The proposal is a result of the COVID-19 shutdown and restrictions on bars and restaurants, which have caused many businesses to suffer financial losses. Currently, Wolf does not plan to ease restrictions due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, according to the press release. 

“This is an important step toward helping bars and restaurants retain, as Rep. [Dan] Deasy said, the capital they need to weather the storm of COVID-19,” Wolf told CBS Philly.

Philadelphia restaurants must maintain below 50% capacity for indoor dining and outdoor structures with a roof or three or more walls. Restaurants must continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks.

Restaurants and bars in University City have had varying degrees of success with a temporary law signed by Wolf, which permits restaurants and bars to sell cocktails to-go. Mitch Whitaker, co-owner of Copabanana, said to-go alcohol sales allowed people to continue to work, and helped the restaurant stay afloat. 

Smokey Joe’s owner and 2009 College graduate Paul Ryan III, however, previously told The Daily Pennsylvanian that to-go cocktail sales have not been as successful. Although Smokey Joe’s has been offering takeout and cocktails, the restaurant still lost 70-80% of its business during the initial months of the lockdown.

Wolf’s proposal is pending approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The proposal is expected to be reviewed at an upcoming meeting, according to the press release.

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