PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It looks like the party isn’t quite over for cocktails to go and expanded outside dining in Pennsylvania. Changes could be coming to make them permanent now that the pandemic has eased.
Right now, state lawmakers are working on a bill to again allow drinks to go permanently.
Bars and restaurants like The 700 club in Northern Liberties say it can’t come soon enough.
Since Pennsylvania’s emergency declaration from the pandemic allowed for cocktails to go, The 700 has been selling drinks through a window and inviting the neighborhood to party outside almost every night.
“It was huge for us. It was absolutely huge. We have great regulars that come here,” The 700 club co-owner Sean Butle-Galliera said.
Bars and restaurants across Pennsylvania had to abruptly stop selling cocktails to go Tuesday immediately after Pennsylvania’s emergency declaration was lifted.
“What we didn’t need to do was end the emergency declaration,” State Rep. Joanna McClinton said.
Democratic lawmakers in Harrisburg blame Republicans for ending Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency declaration without first making sure certain pandemic provisions were kept in place.
“Because from drinks to go to some telehealth measures, they’re not codified in Pennsylvania, so so many of these things are all up in the air right now,” McClinton said.
Right now in Harrisburg, state lawmakers are working on a bill that would again allow cocktails to go, which many people support.
“It was nice during the pandemic because you’d be able to walk around and go to different restaurants and stuff,” Marisa Gonzalez said.
“If anything could help small businesses or just local businesses, why not keep it? Because they’re struggling hard enough as it is,” Kelsey Nagle said.
But that bill stalled Tuesday. And now some in the state GOP are urging fellow Republican lawmakers to get on board with Democrats and focus on quickly reinstating to-go drinks.
“We need to protect our small businesses, in this case, our mom and pop bars and restaurants that are just barely surviving,” State Rep. Chris Quinn said.
On North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties, you can see the streetery out here still in place. A Philadelphia spokesperson says those are here to stay until at least the end of the year.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board says a person can order a wine, beer and malted beverages inside a licensed bar and bring it outside if the city allows it, which Philly does. Mixed cocktails, though, are not allowed outside.
Bars and restaurants can now apply to essentially allow to-go drinks with the Liquor Control Board, something The 700 club is considering.