Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board: Guidance to New Drinks-to-Go Law

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Issues Guidance to Licensees Regarding New Drinks-to-Go Law

Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board today issuedguidance to licensees regarding Act 21 of 2020, signed into law today by Governor Tom Wolf, which allows certain hotel and restaurant licensees to temporarily sell prepared beverages and mixed drinks to go, effective today.

Hotel and restaurant licensees that have lost at least 25% of average monthly sales due to COVID-19 business restrictions, and that offer food sales to go, may now sell prepared beverages and mixed drinks – liquor and one or more mixer combined on the licensed premises in quantities from four to 64 ounces – in sealed containers.

Theguidance issued today by the PLCB regarding drinks to go, which will inform enforcement efforts by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, is summarized below.

  • Only hotel and restaurant licensees selling food to go and meeting the 25% sales impact threshold are authorized to sell drinks to go.
  • Each prepared beverage and mixed drink sold to consumers must be between four and 64 ounces and include liquor and at least one mixer combined on the licensed premises. 
  • Licensees may not sell to go:
    • Mixed drinks containing wine or beer
    • Unopened bottles of liquor
    • Gallon jugs of cocktails
    • Unopened ready-to-drink prepackaged cocktails
    • Straight liquor
  • Drinks to go may not be consumed on the licensed premises and must be sold in sealed containers with secure lids or caps designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap. A lid with sipping or straw holes must be covered or affixed with an additional seal before sale.
  • Licensees can sell drinks to go from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Monday through Saturday, and from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Sundays if the licensee has a Sunday sales permit.
  • There is no limit to the number of drinks-to-go a person can purchase at a time, and purchase of a meal is not required in order to buy drinks to go.
  • Drinks-to-go may not be delivered.
  • Within the next 60 days, any licensee selling drinks to go must begin to use a transaction scan device to verify the age of anyone appearing under 35 years of age before making a sale.
  • Retail licensees not permitted to sell drinks to go include clubs and catering clubs; any licensee whose license was objected to through the Nuisance Bar program; any licensee whose license is suspended or in safekeeping; and any licensee previously suspended under the Licensee Compliance program.

The new law also permits qualifying hotel and restaurant licensees to temporarily sell liquor (not wine or beer) to each other. Licensees selling liquor to other qualifying licensees must report those sales to the PLCB within seven days of each sale.

Pennsylvanians are reminded it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol while in a vehicle, and open containers may only be transported in a vehicle’s trunk or some other area of the vehicle not occupied by the driver or passengers.

The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates nearly 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB also works to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking through partnerships with schools, community groups, and licensees. Taxes and store profits – totaling nearly $18.5 billion since the agency’s inception – are returned to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services. The PLCB also provides financial support for the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, other state agencies, and local municipalities across the state. For more information about the PLCB, visitlcb.pa.gov.

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