Wolf’s TGiving Eve shutdown order a glass half-empty for Pa. bars and taverns | Tuesday Morning Coffee

November 24, 2020 7:12 am

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

As he announced some tightened restrictions to fight the fall surge of COVID-19 on Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf delivered some news that Pennsylvania’s saloon keepers expected, but still didn’t want to hear: They’ll have to stop serving alcohol at 5 p.m. this Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, to limit the booze-fueled mingling of the afterwork crowd, and, more importantly, college kids home on break who are looking to reunite with old friends.

“People get together and that leads to an increase in infection,” Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday during a virtual news conference, adding that the state’s decision to shutter bars and restaurants for a single night is “one of the many steps” the state has taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He added that Pennsylvanians should focused on working “together” to fight the virus, and not focus on “if we get a transitory benefit” by gathering the night before the holiday.

In a statement, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, which represents saloon keepers, said it had been preparing its members for just such an announcement. The news “really comes as no surprise,” in fact, the group said.

“We understand that the COVID case numbers are increasing, and once again, our industry understands that it is being asked to sacrifice in order to play a role in saving lives of Pennsylvanians,” the group said in a statement.

“We get the importance of the keeping patrons safe, and our industry works hard to do so every day,” the statement continues. “But what we don’t get is why there has been no significant financial help to assist our small business taverns and licensed restaurants [to] survive. As this crisis continues, more small businesses are closing while their employees lose jobs.”

The tavern association did credit Wolf for extending civil liability protections for bar owners who find themselves enforcing mask rules. They asked state and federal lawmakers for economic assistance to help them ride out the rest of the pandemic.

“Help is needed now, not later. Many small businesses cannot sustain continued targeted mitigation without help from either the federal or state government,” the statement reads.

Just how big a night is “Drinksgiving” or “Blackout Wednesday” (Yes, someone actually calls it that. We looked it up) for your average watering hole?

Let’s take a look at some data below.

( map)

Now, granted, much has changed in the time of COVID-19. But according to research by Upserve, alcohol sales in 2019 soared by an average of 31 percent compared to the Wednesday the week before.

Restaurants reported $17.2 million in net sales on the Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving Eve, compared to $22.2 million in net sales on the night before Thanksgiving in 2018, according to Upserve’s research. Given pandemic conditions, it’s a sure bet that sales this year likely would have been lower.

“This industry has sacrificed so much for the good of public health,” the Pa. saloon keepers’ association said in its statement. “Now small business taverns and licensed restaurants are the ones being sacrificed by a lack of financial action in both Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.”

Our Stuff.
With an audit foiled, House Republicans are turning their focus to other election law fixesStephen Caruso reports.

The state Supreme Court dealt President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign another setback Monday, ruling that mail-in ballots cast in Pennsylvania’s presidential election can be counted even if a voter didn’t completely fill out the envelope.

Here’s our full story on the COVID-19 mitigation measures the Wolf administration announced Monday, including a new “Stay at Home” advisory, your humble newsletter author reports.

With Thanksgiving just a couple days away, Agriculture Russell Redding is urging Pennsylvanians to buy local this year, Cassie Miller reports.

Vanquished W. Pa. congressional hopeful, Sean Parnell, who’s part of a GOP ballot lawsuit, praised mail-in voting earlier this year, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, two advocates explain why Joe Biden’s victory was a win for Pennsylvania’a Arab-American community. And opinion regular Ana White argues that we need to call time-out on sports until the current COVID-19 surge subsides.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 23: Signage at an early voting center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota residents can vote in the general election every day until Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania’s county governments certified the 2020 election results on Monday, the last day to do so, despite some isolated opposition, the Inquirer reports.
The state Supreme Court says undated ballots in a yet-to-be resolved state Senate contest in western Pennsylvania can be counted, the Tribune-Review reports.
PennLive looks at the pandemic-inspired changes facing hunters as deer season opens in the state on Saturday.
With the 2021 mayoral contest getting underway, Allentown City Council has again put off a vote on a proposed resign-to-run law, the Morning Call reports.
The Northwest Area Schools in Luzerne County will transition to remote instruction as COVID-19 spreads in the region, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

The Philadelphia region certified its election results Monday, even as President Donald Trump’s legal efforts continue to falter in court, WHYY-FM reports.
Erie County is seeing a spike in the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients, GoErie reports.
The incoming Biden administration will help states expand access to healthcare, reports.
Congressional Democrats should seek a quick compromise on a new coronavirus stimulus package, NYMag’s Intelligencer argues.
Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is in line to become the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary, Talking Points Memo reports.

What Goes On.
The pre-holiday lull is officially upon us. The docket is clear. Enjoy the silence.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to all-purpose agitator, Eric Epstein, of Dauphin County, who celebrates today. Congratulations, sir. Enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a classic from North Carolina indie poppers Let’s Active. From the bygone days of 1983, it’s ‘Waters Part.’  If there’s a better way to start Tuesday than some jangly guitars and a lovely melody, we don’t know what it is.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
We’ll bop across the Channel to France this morning for a look at the latest in Ligue 1, where Monaco’s win over Paris St. Germain was a big comeback for manager Niko Kovac, who made artful use of substitutes on the way to the 3-2 victory.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.