Pa. State Police step up COVID-19 violations over weekend

Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Officers are starting to issue more violations in their COVID-19 safety checks of businesses with liquor licenses in the state.

While state police say their main goal is educational, not punitive, they have been increasing the number of violations issued instead of warnings for establishments that continue to be out of compliance with COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

Those which receive violations face administrative citation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.

Continued violations put an establishment’s liquor license at risk.

This weekend state police performed 1,190 checks around the state and issued 10 violations.

Two violations were issued in the Lehigh Valley, which had 169 checks and seven warnings.

The Harrisburg area had three violations and two warnings after 26 checks.

Erie also had three violations issued as well as five warnings after 39 checks.

The Altoona region had two violations, three warnings and 132 checks.

Since July 1 officers have issued a total of 27 violations and 551 warnings after 24,853 checks.

Lehigh Valley establishments have had five violations. Altoona has had the highest at six. Harrisburg has had a total of three.

When performing the checks, officers are looking for things such as indoor mask wearing by employees and patrons and social distancing protocol such as having tables at least six-feet apart. Restaurants can currently only have an indoor seating capacity of 25% their normal limit under the state orders.


State police talk masks, social distancing, violations and enforcement



Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Officers have now issued four notices of violation to businesses that failed to comply with COVID-19 mitigation efforts, one of which was in the Lehigh Valley.

Ryan Tarkowski, director of communications for the state police, said liquor control laws prevent officers from releasing the names and details of liquor license holders that receive violation notices, because they aren’t considered official citations until the business owner can present a defense and a ruling is made.

He did, however, try to give more insight into the focus of the officers’ work to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Since the latest round of checks violations have been issued to establishments in the Allentown, Punxsutawney, Altoona and Philadelphia markets. Tarkowski said he can’t give specifics on the cases, but he noted that officers have discretion as to whether they issue warnings or notices of violation. Any violations were likely due to repeat offenses or particularly egregious circumstances.

“From the beginning we’ve held an education over enforcement posture,” Tarkowski said. “Law enforcement isn’t going to solve the pandemic by issuing a lot of citations.”

However, he said, Pennsylvania and the nation are in the middle of a serious pandemic and the regulations need to be followed for everyone’s safety. “That’s what’s going to get us out of this, get businesses open and get things back to normal as much as they can be,” he said.

Since July 1, Tarkowski noted, there have been nearly 20,000 checks statewide, which resulted in less than 400 warnings and only four violations.

“I think that’s a pretty good ratio. Like people, I think the majority of business are trying to do the right thing,” he said.

The majority of violations involve staff or patrons not wearing masks or not following social distancing guidelines, which he said are the greatest concern for virus transmission. Keeping an eye on those businesses that aren’t complying with regulations is important for all of the businesses that are doing everything they can to comply.

“I can imagine it’s amazingly frustrating for a business owner that’s doing everything right to look across the street and see [a competitor] who isn’t. It’s not fair to them,” he said.

He said businesses that might be concerned those non-compliant competitors are “getting away with things” and profiting off of their noncompliance should know that while the process may be slow, violations are kept on file and are used to determine if a license should be recalled.

However, he said, shuttering businesses isn’t their goal. It’s about letting businesses and the public know that they are watching and making sure these liquor license establishments are operating safely.

“The idea is to show a visible presence, not to name and shame,” he said. “We need to show the public we’re out there and being proactive.”

State police will check bars, restaurants for COVID-19 compliance

Pa. State Police say they’ll be out over the holiday weekend to make sure bar and restaurant staff and customers are adhering to CDC COVID-19 guidelines. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES –


When they said “wear a mask” they meant it.

Pennsylvania State Police said its Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement will be out over the Independence Day holiday weekend, visiting businesses with liquor licenses to make sure they are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

“This year, in addition to never driving while under the influence of alcohol, we must all do our part by wearing a mask at bars and restaurants and whenever social distancing is not possible,” said Major Jeffrey Fisher, bureau director.

Last month Gov. Tom Wolf issued updated guidance that mandates establishments in the restaurant and food service industries require all customers to wear masks when entering, exiting, or otherwise traveling throughout the restaurant.

Employees are required to wear masks at all times.

Yesterday, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine issued an order that requires everyone to wear a mask when out in a public setting where social distancing can’t be maintained, including in bars and restaurants.

Penalties for violations can include a fine of up to $1,000 and possible suspension or revocation of the liquor license.

Since June 10, state police liquor control enforcement officers have averaged approximately 1,565 compliance checks each day and issued 18 warnings.

Violations included failure to require face coverings customers and employees, and exceeding occupancy limits.

No citations have been issued to date.

DelVal plans reopening of campus for fall semester

Delaware Valley University in Doylestown announced today that it is creating plans to hold classes on campus for the fall 2020 semester.

“We will follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding how we open campus,” said DelVal President Dr. Maria Gallo. “There is no question that our students, faculty and staff want to be together as a community again.”

In a press release the school said that its senior administration is working to develop a specific reopening plan.

“We will provide updates over the coming weeks as we work through the details for opening the campus to students,” she said.

An implementation task force will coordinate those plans with strategies for social distancing and other protocols that may be required for a safe opening.

Wind Creek Casino re-opening plan includes wagering by appointment

Wind Creek is considering asking guests to schedule reservations for gambling times to help control crowds. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES –

In a message on the resort’s website, Wind Creek Casino Resort CEO Jay Dorris outlined tentative ways to gradually reopen the resort, including gambling by appointment.

There is no firm reopening date, however

“If the number of questions from our guests is any indication, I am sure demand for the Wind Creek experience will be high when we reopen,” he said in the message. “While I wish we could safely swing our doors open and invite everyone in all at once, our reopening will be conducted in phases.”

He said the resort is looking at a soft opening where a limited number of guests will be invited in to test out new safety precautions and procedures to make sure they will work on a larger scale. When management feels they are able to handle larger crowds it will reopen to the general public. But to make sure the casino floor doesn’t get overcrowded, Wind Creek will institute an appointment system.

“This system will allow guests to ‘reserve’ a day and time in advance and will allow us to always keep the number of guests and team members on property and on the casino floor at a safe number,” he said.

Other changes Wind Creek management is looking at include limiting capacity at restaurants, limiting the number of people that can shop in its retail outlets at one time and restrictions on valet, bell and spa services.

“When we reopen, our goal is to have a plan that will provide a smart and measured approach. It probably won’t be perfect, and it will evolve once put into practice,” Dorris said.

Easton’s historic Farmers Market relocates to allow social distancing

The Easton Farmers Market , normally held in Centre Square, will temporarily move to Scott Park along Larry Holmes Drive in the city. Photo/submitted –

The nation’s oldest continually running outdoor farmers market is moving. The Easton Farmers Market, operating since 1752, is from Centre Square in the city to Scott Park along the river, at 130 Larry Holmes Drive.

The move will help market organizers meet social distancing requirements to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Centre Square is pretty cramped,” said Megan McBride, director of the market. “The vendors are all side by side and that encourages gathering, which is something we don’t want to encourage right now.”

The market has been given permission to close down Larry Holmes Drive during market hours, which will create a clear entrance and exit and allow linear spacing of vendors, with plenty of space in between, she said.

The, which is temporary, begins May 2 when the seasonal market opens for the year.

It is the first time, to McBride’s knowledge, that the 268 year old market has been moved. McBride hopes can return to Centre Square before the end of the season.

“Our goal is to get back on the square at some point,” she said. “It has a ripple effect on the downtown businesses while we’re there. We estimate that market visitors spend an average of $30 on area businesses while they’re in the downtown.”

Noting that the market survived the Civil War and the 1918 pandemic, McBride said there was no question that the market would go on this season.

“Farmers’ markets are vital,” she said. “Farmers markets support local farmers and producers, support our local economy, and provide access to fresh, healthy foods.”

The market will run from 9.a.m-1 p.m. Saturdays through November. Like many grocery stores, the market will reserve the first hour for those over the age of 65 and at-risk individuals.

Reading pretzel company participating in Bikes & Beers – and social distancing

During a normal Bikes & Beers event, cyclists would compete in races together. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

A Reading-based pretzel manufacturer is participating in what is turning out to be a fairly “unique” national marketing effort.

Unique Pretzels COO Justin Spannuth said his company had already signed on to support “Bikes & Beers,” a national cycling event in 30 cities that boosts each region’s microbreweries.

Then the coronavirus hit and the races, like most events, couldn’t go on as planned.

But while the races won’t go on as planned, they will go on in what is now being dubbed as the “Nation’s Largest Social Distancing Ride.”

Spannuth said he had been excited about participating in “Bikes & Beer” as a first-time sponsor. Unique would be providing bags of its Sourdough Craft Beer Pretzel Rings to riders in each of the 30 events.

“Pretzels made for beer. It’s really a perfect fit,” he said.

But, now instead of sending pretzels out for 30 different events, there will be one, large virtual event that begins April 1.

Unique Pretzel’s Sourdough Craft Beer Pretzel Rings PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Riders can track their own miles, either out riding alone or in small groups, or staying at home using an exercise bike. Awards will be given out based on miles ridden.

Each participant is getting a “swag bag” of goods mailed to them and Unique Pretzels will be among the goodies.

“It’s a good spin on something,” Spannuth said. “And it’s a good push to stay fit while they’re quarantined in their homes.”

The event is still promoting local breweries.

Bikes & Beers has partnered with around 100 breweries across the country, including Troegs, Victory, and Yards Brewing Co.

Spannuth noted that the event is also raising money for a good cause. Bikes & Brews is raising money for a sub-foundation of the Gates Foundation that is researching COVID-19 and helping families that have been impacted by the virus.