(The Center Square) – While Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar liquor stores will stay closed indefinitely, Gov. Tom Wolf said he’s authorized online sales instead.
“Our liquor stores are all closed and that’s going to be good for our employees and our customers,” Wolf said Wednesday during a news conference. “In the meantime we have opened up online sales. That’s the safe way to do it and that’s how we do it in Pennsylvania.”
Wolf directed the Liquor Control Board to shut down roughly 600 wine and spirits locations across the state on March 17 as cases of novel coronavirus began to swell. Pennsylvania is the only state nationwide to deem its liquor stores nonessential.
“We understand the public wants to have access to wines and spirits during these unprecedented times, but we have a responsibility to mitigate community spread of this virus to every extent possible and make sure our employees and our customers are as safe as they can be,” said Board Chairman Tim Holden. “We believe that reopening [the website] in a controlled manner will allow us to provide access to consumers while also protecting our employees and consumers from unnecessary risk.”
The news sent thousands flocking to the online portal Wednesday. A message from the LCB says “due to overwhelming demand, the online store is unavailable.” It encourages shoppers to return in the coming days. Shawn Kelly, an LCB spokesperson, clarified that access to the website will be randomized to avoid overwhelming the page with high traffic or exhausting available inventory within minutes each day.
“We expect consumer interest and site traffic to exceed what we’ll be able to fulfill, at least initially, so we ask that customers be patient and understand that the PLCB Is doing the best it can under extraordinary circumstances to balance consumer demand and public health,” Holden said.