Pa. shoppers flock to neighboring states as Liquor Control Board considers reopening some online businesses

Paul Kurtz
March 26, 2020 - 6:47 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Wolf administration is resisting a lobbying campaign to reopen all 600 wine and spirits stores, which were closed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.  

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Sean Kelly said the agency will not be reopening the brick-and-mortar operations but it is considering resuming limited online sales as it continues monitoring the outbreak along with the governor and state health officials. 

Related: Pa. lawmakers OK health care aid, unemployment relief; liquor board mulls reopening state stores

That’s not what Chris Swonger, head of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, wanted to hear. 

He said while he understands the need to protect people’s health, there are creative ways to be open while reducing the risk to employees and customers.

“It could be limiting access to the stores, it could be allowing when you pick your dinner to go at a restaurant being able to pick up distilled spirits as well,” he said. 

Total Wine and More in Delaware.
Paul Kurtz/KYW Newsradio

For now, the situation for Pennsylvania residents is every man and woman for themselves, and a lot of them are defying the stay-at-home order and driving to Delaware and New Jersey.

Sabrina Harrison made the half hour drive from Philly to stock up at Total Wine and More in Claymont, Delaware. 

“Got some vodka, some E&J, some wine. So if the city locks down for another month I think I’m safe. Let’s hope so or I’ll be making another trip,” she joked.

“I think it was stupid (to close liquor stores) because people have to travel so far to get what they want I think that’s dumb," said Jackie Singleton. "But I don’t live that far from Delaware anyways so it’s just a hop skip and a jump for me."

Pennsylvania is the only state to close all its wine and spirits stores.