New coronavirus restrictions are preventing restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania from selling alcohol this Wednesday night.
Known as “Blackout Wednesday,” the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. With most people off work Thursday for the holiday each year, friends go to drinking holes to celebrate.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine has issued an order to stop all on-site alcohol sales beginning at 5 pm on Wednesday night only. The order lasts through 8 a.m. Thursday.
“It turns out the biggest day for drinking is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “When people get together in that situation it leads to an increase in the exchange of the fluids that leads to infection.”
Curbside pickup and takeout are still allowed. A new law passed this year in light of the pandemic allows eateries to offer mixed drinks to-go.
Local State Rep. Perry Warren introduced the bill in February and Wolf signed it into law in May.
Still, this ban on drinking for one of the busiest nights of the year for these establishments will be a hit to revenue. Wolf says he recognizes restaurants and bars have already been hit hard by the pandemic.
“The thing that we can’t do is ignore reality. The more we learn about it, the more we know this is the kind of place that actually speeds up transmission of the disease.”
Even in a normal year, Blackout Wednesday is not all celebrations. It is one of the most dangerous nights to drive.
Some areas see more DUI arrests the night before Thanksgiving than they do on New Year’s Eve. The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office organized increased roving patrols last year to catch anyone driving under the influence.