Pa. bars close early Thanksgiving eve while Ohio bars still wrestle with early close times

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On Monday, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine ordered a halt to alcohol sales at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening through 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning

(WKBN) – There was a much different look to bars and restaurants Wednesday night compared to a year ago, especially in Pennsylvania.

Alex, Dominic and Matt are bar-goers who were out earlier Wednesday evening.

“I don’t understand why Black Friday shopping is still a thing, and this is frowned upon,” Dominic said.

“Yeah, how can you continue to shop all night but you can only drink until five?” Matt said.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine ordered a halt to alcohol sales at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening through 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

“Usually this is a busy night for everybody in this industry,” said Aaron Piratta, bartender and server at Cedars, a bar in New Castle.

Half an hour before the order went into effect, bar-goers were saying they don’t really understand the reasoning but will, of course, abide by the rules.

“We could’ve went out last night and been here until close with 50 people, but Thanksgiving is a crazier time, so you know,” Matt said.

And for longtime bartender and server Piratta, he says he knows it’s just another part of an already tough year.

“We’re lucky to still be open and to make at least a few bucks, so we’ve gotta do what we’ve gotta do, that’s all,” he said.

Across the line in Ohio, there was no 5 p.m. halt to liquor sales, but there was still a struggle for bars having to abide by the 10 p.m. close time.

“You could set a watch to our four busiest days of the year and this is one of them, and tonight, it’s certainly not,” said Brock Beatty, co-owner of Numbers Brewery in Lisbon. “Definitely the service industry has for whatever reason felt the brunt of it. You can still go to Walmart and buy groceries after 10 o’clock, but beer turns into COVID juice. I just don’t understand.”

Beatty says he also really worries about his employees and other bartenders across the state.

“They would do better being laid off at this point because of the lack of customers and the tip money and the reduced hours,” he said.

But even in the thick of the slow business, everyone says they’ll continue to follow the rules and do what they can to get rid of the virus as soon as possible.

“We’re going to continue to follow protocol. We really don’t have any choice,” said Beatty.

“Everybody feels like they’re being singled out, but in reality, we’re all having to go through the same thing,” Dominic said.

“You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do,” Piratta said. “It’s not our rules. We didn’t make them, we just have to follow them.”

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