PLCB relaxes liquor license ‘safekeeping’ rule during COVID-19 event



The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is issuing special allowances that will benefit liquor licensees over the course of Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandated closure of non-essential businesses.

PLCB officials said this move is in an effort to mitigate the economic impacts caused by recommendations to close non-essential business operations amidst the spread of the coronavirus.

Board officials sent a letter to licensees on Monday indicating that the requirements for preserving a license when it’s not operational — as well as the deadlines and penalties that come with safekeeping — have been temporarily but indefinitely lifted.

The board has extended operating authority for licensees whose license is set to expire before the board’s normal operations can continue, citing “operational disruptions that significantly limit the PLCB’s capacity to timely process renewal and validation applications.” Board officials urge licensees to heed public health officials’ request to cease non-essential operations, limit group gatherings and practice social distancing.

“Given Gov. Wolf’s and public health officials’ recent advice that all non-essential retailers and bars and restaurants across Pennsylvania close for at least the next two weeks, the requirement to place a license in safekeeping when a licensee is not operational for 14 days is suspended indefinitely, as are safekeeping deadlines and related penalties,” the letter states.

“In light of the direction that bars and restaurants suspend dine-in service for at least the next two weeks, the PLCB will temporarily adopt lenient measures to enable licensees…to continue selling beer and wine for off-premises consumption,” according to the letter issued to licensees on March 16.

Retail licensees — such as restaurants bars, hotels, grocery stores and convenient stores — can continue to sell beer to go, even in the absence of restaurant operations, PLCB officials said, and those with wine expanded permits will have the ability to continue selling wine. There will be no changes to the quantity limits or requirements regarding how sales can be made.

Likewise, producers of alcoholic products — including breweries, wineries and distilleries — are required to indefinitely suspend dine-in services, but they are allowed to continue selling products for off-premises consumption.

“I think that the point is because it’s mandatory closure, there’s a million other things to worry about other than being able to keep our liquor licenses,” said Jessica Ayala, owner of Revival Social Club in York and Home 231 in Harrisburg.


Justin Henry
Justin Henry is the regional reporter for the Central Penn Business Journal and the Lehigh Valley Business. He can be reached at jhenry@bridgetowermedia.com.

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