The state restaurant association likes the idea but says its focus is on getting local establishments up and running.By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bars and restaurants in Pennsylvania have really taken quite a hit during the pandemic.

One state lawmaker thinks he has a good solution to help them recover faster. As money editor Jon Delano reports, it’s all about how long they serve alcoholic drinks.

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Under state law, most bars and restaurants in Pennsylvania close their tap or cork the bottle at 2 a.m. But Pennsylvania Rep. Jordan Harris says it’s time to extend that to 4 a.m.

“We’re coming out of this pandemic. The hospitality industry has been devastated because they had to close to protect all of us,” says Harris, a Philadelphia Democrat. “Now it’s our time to help them.”

Harris will introduce a bill to allow local municipalities to decide for themselves if a 4 a.m. last call makes sense.

“I am not saying we should keep all bars and restaurants open to 4 a.m. That’s not what I am saying,” Rep. Harris said. “What I am saying is that if a local government, a local mayor, and city council decide they want to allow this in their jurisdiction, they should be able to,” says Harris.

“Anything that will help a restaurant or bar, we are certainly in favor of,” says John Longstreet, president at CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

“I will admit this bill was not on our radar screen because we’re looking for ways to get restaurants open again at reasonable levels,” added Longstreet.

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The state restaurant association likes the idea but says its focus is on getting local establishments up and running.

And not everyone favors later hours for drinking. Law enforcement in some states opposes this extension of time since one person dies in a drunk-driving accident every 52 minutes.

But Harris says extended hours promote safer drinking.

“They also kind of stretch out their drinking because now there is no longer that push to have your drinks done at 2 a.m.,” Harris said.

The Philadelphia Democrat says it makes sense to allow a 4 a.m. closing in urban centers near hotels, convention centers, ballparks and stadiums.

“Let’s create entertainment zones in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Lancaster and Harrisburg where the industry can thrive,” Rep. Harris said.

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A number of states are exploring extended hours. New York already has a 4 a.m. last call in some places, and, of course, Las Vegas allows drink sales 24/7.