Lockdown times can be pretty boring, as US citizens have found out during this unusual spring. The need for social distancing has forced one state after the other to shut down bars and restaurants. Pennsylvania is no exception. By March 17th, serving food and drink on the premises was forbidden everywhere.
And the same deadline was enforced on the seven PA casinos, so if you were thinking of going there to get a drink – no joy. Gaming is alive, though, in the online mode, as you can find out on penn-casinos.com that offers some detailed guides on its pages, with all the necessary instructions. A more difficult enterprise is to buy booze, these days.
The story gets a bit more complicated here, owing to Pennsylvania’s specific situation. PA is one of the seventeen “controlled states”, meaning that it controls the sales of distilled spirits. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is the public body that runs the business, since the time the Prohibition ended. The PLCB was created by state law on Nov. 29, 1933, with one peculiarity: it also exercises control over retail sales for off-premises consumption.
More than 600 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores, including more than 100 Premium Collection stores and 13 licensee service centers, are leased from private landlords, infusing more than $55.1 million into the Pennsylvania economy. Owing to this specific circumstance, when the PA government decided to shut down the whole liquor sale sector on March 16th, they were able to enforce a total lockdown. But consumers went ballistic.
Panic buying exploded at liquor stores the day before and spilled over state borders when desperate drinkers tried to restock in New Jersey and West Virginia. They flooded shops in these neighboring states so much, that some of them had to close for security reasons, comparing the unexpected flood of extra buyers to a “tsunami”. At least one county in West Virginia went so far as to prohibit sales of spirits to PA residents to stop this trend.
The last blow to customers was the government’s decision to shut down online sales of spirits too! True, they had to reopen it a few days after to respond to mass discontent, but PLCB’s site “Fine Wine & Good Spirits” immediately crashed under the pressure of overwhelming demand. Since then, it has been functioning on and off, following the capacity that the public body can put together on any specific day.
“We are evaluating fulfillment capacity on a daily basis to optimize the number of orders we can accept each day, and the number of orders accepted each day will vary until we can better understand demand and fulfillment capacity,” PLCB spokesman Shawn M. Kelly declared on April 6th.
The last hope comes from the mobile app bearing the same name, “Fine Wine & Good Spirits”, that is still available on GooglePlay for Android and AppleStore in the iPhone version. No joy for new users, because the “shop online” function is accessible only to registered users and registration must be done on the website…. that is down.
The other parts of the app, though, are functioning. So you can still find details on wine and/or spirit, locate the store nearest you, and contact them directly. Some of them are able to sell directly to customers and arrange to pick up options at their premises or home deliveries.