Allow Pennsylvania licensees to sell spirits for take-out & delivery thru 12/31/20

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The COVID pandemic has shut down non-essential businesses, but Pennsylvania has decided that grocery stores and beer distributors (as well as our local brewers, distillers, and vintners!) can stay open. That still leaves the market for legal alcohol sadly underserved. The State Stores are closed, and the PLCB's website is proving unable to meet customer demand. Individual statewide deliveries from only three warehouses put added stress on a delivery chain that's needed for medical supplies.

There is a simple, elegant solution that has benefits for all: allow Pennsylvania's restaurants, taverns, and beer distributors to sell wine, beer, spirits, and cider for take-out and local delivery. Ontario just made a similar allowance through the end of the year. 

Given the current devastating restrictions on the restaurant and hospitality industry, there is a strong likelihood that many of these businesses will close and never re-open. Every one of them will leave unemployed citizens, blighted neighborhoods, weakened banks; shocks that will echo throughout the state.

If these businesses are to remain open in order to rehire laid-off employees after the emergency, they need every opportunity to stay afloat. We need to allow them to create profit where they can, and they can fill the hole that the State Stores have left.

Restaurant people are licensed, trained, and motivated. They are already paying their taxes on every bottle sold. Most of them already have an inventory of spirits that is a frozen asset. Let them sell that and make money to pay employees, rent, utilities, and debt, a chance to re-open fully when the crisis abates.

Beer distributors, also licensed and trained, need to be allowed to sell wine and spirits simply in the name of fairness. They are doing their part to serve Pennsylvania citizens' needs in the crisis, they deserve to continue to survive this.

The PLCB's wholesale arm is supplying large customers, like supermarket chains, with wine. In the name of fairness, in the name of economic survival, they need to supply all licensees who can safely do take-out or delivery sales in their neighborhoods.

The addition of spirits to trucks that are already on the road is a no-brainer answer to the problem of spirit sales to citizens (without the risks of statewide home delivery). Infrastructure is already in place, or can be put in place quickly with the assistance of the PLCB's wholesale suppliers, who have already offered to help. That means more jobs for Pennsylvanians.

There is no good reason why this should not be allowed. The only thing holding it back is laws that were put in place as much as 85 years ago. That was a different time; Prohibition was repealed to help meet an economic crisis. Once again, we find ourselves in very different times, and new laws are needed to meet new crises.

Help the hospitality industry now, and change this rule immediately. This can make a huge difference to the future of literally thousands of small businesses, and tens of thousands of employees, across Pennsylvania.