Biggest bar night of the year canceled under new COVID-19 restrictions


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s been called Dranksgiving, Drunksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve, but in 2020, it’s just Wednesday.

The biggest bar night of the year was canceled on Monday, as Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced a ban on alcohol sales at restaurants and bars between Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. to Nov. 26 at 8 a.m.

“All you’ve done is lower our checks– income for us — when we’re already being starved, already being strangled, already stomped on,” said Matt Flinchbaugh, owner of Flinchys Restaurant and Bar in Camp Hill.

One restaurant owner’s “stomp” is the governor’s safe-keeping. A University of Washington study has a grim prediction for Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania will run out of intensive care beds in December if we do nothing. That’s what they’re modeling,” said Gov. Tom Wolf (D) Pennsylvania.

Flinchbaugh thinks the governor is modeling how to be a hypocrite. He said big box stores have hardly any restrictions.

“There are more people just in line cashing out than I am allowed to have at my restaurant on a Friday night,” Flinchbaugh said.

Gov. Wolf said the data is clear — bars and restaurants are hot spots for COVID-19.

“When people get together in that situation, it leads to an increase in an exchange of fluids that leads to an increase of infection,” Wolf said.

Flinchbaugh isn’t so sure. He said alcohol could have been sold safely, and it’s not like it’s the same experience as years past.

“You weren’t getting big bar activity anyway. We’re not allowed to serve at our bars. We’re not allowed to have dancing,” Flinchbaugh said.

Gov. Wolf said he hates having to cancel fun in such a dreary year, but hang tight.

“Let’s forgo that just one time, and if we do that and all these other things, then we can get back to life as we know it, and we can go back to bars any time we want,” Wolf said.

Flinchbaugh isn’t so sure those bars will make it through the other side of the pandemic.

“Trust me, I bet the state stores will be selling alcohol long after 5 p.m. on Wednesday,” Flinchbaugh said.


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