The Distilled Spirits Council has written a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, urging him to undue his mandate that closed all the state’s liquor stores.
Gov. Wolf made the decision as part of his efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. To date, Pennsylvania is the only state that has shut down all liquor stores as part of the Coronavirus response.
“We understand state leaders like yourself are struggling with the careful balance of protecting the health of citizens while also protecting the financial health of state and local economies,” DISCUS writes to the governor in its letter. “We’d like to offer some alternatives to completely shutting down all state stores that take into account these dual needs and share how other control states are handling the issue.”
DISCUS goes on to point out how other control states have handled the liquor store safety issue:
- Alabama has reduced the number of open ABC stores and shifted personnel torwards open locations. The state has also outlined guidelines to protect customers and staff, including limiting the number of customers allowed in a store at any given time; having store personnel retrieve customers products; encouraging credit card purchases; and requiring employees to wear gloves
- In North Carolina, local counties continue to operate their off-premise spirits stores but might consider scaled back hours of operation
- In Virginia, stores remain open with reduced operating hours at certain stores
- Utah and New Hampshire continue to keep their state stores open.
If Gov. Wolf refuses to reopen retail stores, then DISCUS suggests the state temporarily allow “R’” licenses that currently sell beer and wine to also sell spirits until retail stores are re-opened.
“Many restaurants are now selling take away food only and the loss of patrons is financially harming their businesses,” DISCUS writes. “These restaurants are already licensed to sell spirits and already are trained in proper ID verification. As restaurants across the state are suffering huge financial losses due to lack of business, the ability to also sell distilled spirits would help offset their losses and could potentially prevent permanent restaurant closures.”
“The spirits industry stands ready to assist you in exploring innovative approaches to protect Pennsylvanians while easing the burden on consumers and the hospitality industry,” DISCUS adds.
Meanwhile, the council is working with leaders in Washington D.C. to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the overall alcohol industry.