Pa. liquor control enforcement officers issue 11 violations state-wide

Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 589 businesses with liquor licenses last weekend and issued 11 notices of violation and 27 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements.

The State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement announced its most recent compliance checks on Tuesday from Friday, Feb. 12 through Sunday, Feb. 14.

During the weekend, one business in Harrisburg received a warning for failing to comply with COVID-19 mitigation efforts and two received notices of violation related to mitigation efforts.

In Allentown, two restaurant received warnings and two received notices of violation.

Businesses can receive either a warning or a notice of violation if they fail to require customers and employees to wear masks within the facility, provide six feet of space between parties or physical barriers and adhere to their maximum occupancy limits.

In total, the officers issued 27 warnings and 11 notices in Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Altoona, Williamsport, Punxsutawney, Erie and Allentown.

The compliance checks are unannounced and can happen anywhere in the state, the bureau wrote in a press release on Tuesday.


State Ag Department issues warning to restaurants ignoring closure order

Restaurants that refused to comply with Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-week mitigation plan to limit the spread of COVID-19 received warning letters from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services this week.

As of Saturday, December 12 and until January 4, Pennsylvania restaurants are prohibited from offering indoor dining following a set of orders announced by Wolf on Dec. 10

On Monday, the department received 150 reports of restaurants that opened during the weekend despite the orders. Of those 150, some were reported incorrectly and had not been open but others received a letter from the department threatening further action if they remained open, according to Shannon Powers, press secretary for the state Department of Agriculture.

“In the 24 follow-up visits completed prior to the storm yesterday, 15 businesses were observed to be violating the order and were issued closure notices,” Powers said, adding that those numbers do not include the state’s most populous cities and counties whose health departments inspect restaurants.

In the warning letter, reminds businesses that the limited-time mitigation order is mandatory.

“Your decision is troubling in that it runs counter to the mitigation efforts others throughout the entire Commonwealth are engaging in, places individuals at risk of harm and greatly increases the likelihood of spreading COVID-19,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to say that failure to comply with the orders could result in sanctions, including closure. The restaurants that receive closure notices will be referred to the Department of Health for further action if they refuse to comply.

The Department of Agriculture is not the only state department enforcing the orders. The Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, local law enforcement as well as the departments of Health, State and Labor and Industry are also enforcing the orders.

The warning letter

To view the original document, click the image above.

In a weekend check, State Police issue 64 COVID-19 compliance warnings

Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers made 1,709 checks on liquor establishments and issued 64 warnings over the weekend. That compares to last weekend when 1,524 checks were made and 44 warnings issued.

In Harrisburg, officers made 54 checks and issued seven warnings, a higher percentage than last weekend when 10 warnings were issued in the region after 115 checks.

In the Lehigh Valley, nine of the 206 visited businesses received warnings. Last weekend only two businesses received warnings.

Larger cities are receiving more visits because of higher coronavirus transmission rates in those areas, but compliance percentages were higher. In Philadelphia, there were only seven warnings out of 367 checks.

Pittsburgh had more violations than Philly —  18 warnings out of 383 visits.

The requirements the officers are enforcing include ensuring employees in the restaurant and retail food service industry are ensuring diners wear masks when entering, exiting or otherwise traveling throughout the business, but not while sitting. Employees, however, are required to wear masks at all times.

The businesses must provide at least six feet between parties at tables or physical barriers between customers where booths are arranged back to back and ensure maximum occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor areas are posted and enforced.

To date, state police have only issued warnings. No citations have been made. However, in its release it was noted that continued violations put an establishment’s liquor license at risk, either through a citation or upon application for renewal.