PA's Thanksgiving liquor sales mandate is just bizarre

I first saw this announcement on Twitter yesterday afternoon and initially thought it might be some satire that had gotten out of control. We’ve already seen plenty of heavy-handed mandates being handed down by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, but the latest edict sounded like too much to believe. With a spike in new cases of COVID taking place in his state, some tighter restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather, including in private residences, were put in place. That’s pretty much par for the course for Wolf, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise. But he then followed that up with an order for all bars and restaurants to stop selling alcohol for a specific 15-hour period. That period runs from 5 pm tomorrow (the day before Thanksgiving) until 8 am the following morning. (CBS Pittsburgh)

On Wednesday, Nov. 25, restaurants and bars are ordered to suspend alcohol sales at 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 26. Gov. Wolf says the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the “biggest day for drinking” and acknowledged bars and restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic, but this one-night ban is needed…

Gathering limits have also been reduced, with the state’s calculator for indoor and outdoor event occupancy updated.

“Orders already in place and those announced today will be enforced, and law enforcement and state agencies will be stepping up enforcement efforts, issuing citations and fines and possible regulatory actions for repeat offenders,” says Dr. Levine.

Tom Wolf is once again specifically targeting bars and restaurants to the exclusion of everyone else. These are some of the hardest-hit businesses in the country, including in Pennsylvania, and they are once again being singled out for “special treatment” under these orders.

In his remarks, Wolf admitted that he knew precisely how hard things have been on these businesses and then lamely attempted to say that it wasn’t his fault.

The thing that we can’t do is ignore reality and say ‘yeah you folks, for no fault of your own, have been hit hardest by this virus.’ But the virus is what’s doing this. It’s not me. It’s not the administration. It’s not the government,” said Gov. Wolf.

That’s blatantly untrue. It’s absolutely the government and specifically the Governor who is doing this. He’s the one issuing the orders. The virus is basically everywhere and any business that’s open and funneling customers through creates some level of risk. But it’s always the bars and the restaurants that are lashed to the stocks first.

Making all of this worse is the nonsensical nature of this order. He’s not saying that the bars and restaurants have to close at 5 pm, provided they’re following the social distancing orders that are already in place. Just that they have to stop serving alcohol. Are people who are having a beer or a cocktail somehow more at risk than non-drinkers? Is it somehow safer for the same number of people to gather around a table in a restaurant if they’re drinking soda? This is nonsense.

And if alcohol is the problem, why isn’t he shutting down the state liquor stores and packaged goods outlets where beer is sold? What he’s really doing is just providing additional incentives for people to go pick up some booze and head out to drink together elsewhere.

The Governor offered no explanation for why this bizarre order was issued. No rationale was provided. He simply mandated the crackdown, admitted that he knew it would further damage the bar and restaurant industry, and then told everyone they were just going to have to suck it up. Surely there’s a limit to how much of this garbage people are going to tolerate before they just openly revolt.

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John Stossel 12:01 AM on June 09, 2023