The fact is, with counties changing status seemingly every week, and updated guidance being provided by the Governor’s Office and the PLCB, the level of confusion is somewhat high for tavern and licensed restaurant owners.
As such, the PLBTA reached out to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement for a list of top COVID-19 complaints against taverns and licensed restaurants since June 5. As Members know, there is an anonymous process to file complaints against licensed establishments.
On behalf of the PLBTA, the LCE canvassed its command staff and came up with a pretty wide ranging list of issues based on the complaints they received this past weekend alone. They include
- Licensees in Yellow phase counties providing dine-in services
- Bar seating not in compliance with physical distancing guideline of at least 6’ or physical barriers between customers
- Standing in the bar area
- Not requiring all customers to wear masks while entering, exiting, or otherwise traveling throughout the restaurant or retail food service business
- Not maintaining at least 6’ between parties at tables
- Not allowing for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least 6’ of distance to a seated customer)
- Not ensuring maximum occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor areas are enforced
- Permitting customers to play pool, darts, and/or video gambling devices
- No observed cleaning of high touch areas
- Allowing more than 10 people at a table and shared tables among multiple parties
- The use of larger-scale entertainment – e.g., DJ / band(s) – that are designed to attract larger crowds (as opposed to solo acts or “background music” for lunch/dinner
According to the LCE, this is a learning process for everyone. Their officers are trying to educate licensees and take a common sense approach to enforcing these guidelines, with the primary concern being to ensure that the Governor’s intentions are being followed through.
With regard to video gambling devices, the LCE says the Governor’s stance and PSP’s stance on “skill machines” can be found in the Governor’s FAQ document – https://www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/business-faq/).
In part, the Governor’s FAQ reads as follows:
Miercurea-Ciuc May I operate a Game of Skill in my business?
The commonwealth’s consistent position is that so-called Games of Skill are illegal gambling devices and not authorized anywhere in the commonwealth. Operation of these machines during the current health emergency encourages people to congregate unnecessarily and is prohibited under the Governor’s Order of March 19, 2020. Any business operating, servicing or otherwise maintaining a Game of Skill, is subject to enforcement which may include an order to suspend otherwise authorized in-person operations.