Pennsylvania bans alcohol sales on one of the busiest nights of the year.

Bars and restaurants in Pennsylvania have been ordered by the state to stop selling alcohol at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, in an effort to head off uninhibited pre-Thanksgiving gatherings where the virus could spread rapidly.

“It turns out, the biggest day for drinking is the day before Thanksgiving,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference on Monday. “I don’t like addressing that more than anyone else does, but it’s a fact. And when people get together in that situation, it leads to the exchange of the fluids that leads to the increased infection.”

“We’re going to defeat this virus,” the governor added. “That should be what we’re focused on, not whether we want to get a transitory benefit from going out with friends the day after tomorrow and having some drinks. Let’s forgo that, this one time.”

The regulation, which allows alcohol sales to resume at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, was immediately slammed by restaurant and bar owners, who said it put further strain on businesses that are already struggling to survive.

Mr. Wolf said he was fully aware of the ill will the decision had engendered. “The virus is what’s doing this — it’s not me, and it’s not the administration, it’s not the government,” he said. “The more we learn about it, the more we know that this is the kind of place that speeds the transmission of the disease.”

Facing the same concerns in neighboring Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the state police and local authorities would step up enforcement of pandemic restrictions on bars, restaurants, nightclubs and catering halls starting on Wednesday, including cutting off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and other measures the governor imposed last week.

In Utah, on the other hand, Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday partly relaxed the state’s restrictions on casual private gatherings this week for the holiday. The governor said that he was not extending an earlier order that banned indoor gatherings of people from more than one household.

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