Restaurant industry says liquor license fee waiver not enough

Stacy Wescoe//October 23, 2020

Restaurant industry says liquor license fee waiver not enough

Stacy Wescoe//October 23, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf Thursday announced a plan to waive liquor license fees to provide financial relief to restaurants and bars, which have faced significant financial impacts during the COVID-19 public health crisis. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


Restaurant industry advocates are calling Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s waiver of liquor license fees to help offset COVID-19 losses too little and too late

“PRLA has been advocating for a number of industry ‘lifelines’ since March 19. It’s unfortunate that the administration is only now, nearly eight months later, taking our requests seriously,” said John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association. “While our industry desperately needs support, these olive branches will not sustain businesses that are still reeling from closures, shrinking revenue and well-intended but ineffective mitigation efforts unnecessarily targeting restaurant operators.”

Wolf on Thursday said the state would waive all liquor license fees for 2021. The move came nearly a week after he vetoed House Bill 2513, which restaurant owners had been calling for. The bill would have stripped many of the COVID-19 mitigation regulations he added since July 15, leaving mask wearing and 50% capacity in place.

Longstreet said supporting loosened restrictions would have been more helpful.

“The $20 million in licensee fee waivers only accounts for 2021 fees, does not provide relief for 2020 fees and only amounts to about $1,500 per licensee, which doesn’t compensate for the daily losses in revenue licensees are facing under the current orders,” he said.

Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association said more is needed.

“While licensing fee help is part of the solution, much more needs to be done, particularly considering the size of the industry and its role in the Pennsylvania economy,” he said in a release.

He said his organization would like to see liquor license fees waived for both 2020 and 2021. It’s also calling for industry specific grants – not loans.

He said the association would also like to see the governor meet many of the demands that were in the bill that he vetoed including allowing bar seating and eliminating the need to buy food to purchase liquor.

It would also like to see the curfew to sell alcohol moved from 11 p.m. until midnight to help accommodate shift workers.