“Any other time, we’d love to have visitors from Pennsylvania, but right now this creates an unacceptable public health issue,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday.
Pennsylvanians will have to stay in their own state to purchase alcohol after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered liquor stores near the border to only sell to individuals with Ohio IDs.
The order, which came out Monday, is meant to curb the number of out-of-state individuals—read: Pennsylvanians—from traveling to Ohio to purchase alcohol and continue spreading the coronavirus.
“It’s mind-boggling. 95 percent of our customers are from Pennsylvania,” Linda Johnson told the Post-Gazette. Johnson is the manager of the Devine Shop and Save in Hubbard, Ohio, which is just five minutes from the border with Ohio.
Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf did not include liquor stores on the state’s list of “life sustaining” businesses while social distancing measures are in place, which meant that on March 16 all liquor stores, which are run by the state, closed their doors to the public. Pennsylvania is also an alcoholic beverage control state, meaning that any hard liquors purchased for at-home consumption must be purchased at one of the state-run liquor stores.
On April 1, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) started allowing a restricted number of delivery orders. However, the capacity to deliver orders remains too low to meet the high demand.
DeWine ordered liquor stores in six Ohio counties that are closest to Pennsylvania—Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson, and Belmont—to only sell liquor to customers with valid Ohio IDs. Ohioans who do not have an Ohio license or other valid ID can still purchase alcohol if they can provide proof that they live in Ohio, such as mail or a bill with an Ohio address.
“This is necessary because of repeated instances of persons from Pennsylvania coming into these counties for the sole or main purpose of purchasing liquor. Any other time, we’d love to have visitors from Pennsylvania, but right now this creates an unacceptable public health issue,” DeWine said at a press conference.
Pennsylvanians also have an added deterrent from purchasing alcohol out of state and bringing it back home: legal ramifications. According to the PLCB, it is illegal to import alcohol into the state unless the holder is a member of the board or holds a specific license like a sacramental wine license or importer’s license among a few other exceptions.
However, Pennsylvanians appear to be willing to risk the consequences to get hard alcohol during the pandemic. It should be noted, however, that residents are not willing to drive too far out of their way. Liquor stores in neighboring states more than 20 or so miles from the border have not seen much of an increase in sales to people from the Keystone State.
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