If you’re planning to buy wine and liquor at a state Fine Wine & Good Spirits store for Thanksgiving, do not wait until the last minute or you could be waiting in line.

The state Liquor Control Board is advising customers “to plan ahead and stay safe,” in the words of Chairman Tim Holden, at a time when COVID-19 mitigation measures still are in effect.

The PLCB knows that Thanksgiving week is one of its stores’ busiest, but shopping could be even longer this season as stores continue to limit the number of customers inside at any given time.

Customers are encouraged to shop in mid-morning and early afternoon, when the stores are less busy, and to allow extra time regardless.

The first hour at every store is reserved for customers at high risk of getting COVID-19, such as those age 65 and older. All customers, as well as employees, must wear masks and practice social distancing and not touch items unless they intend to buy them, as guided by signs. Store hours will be modified to allow for cleaning and restocking.

“This is a holiday season unlike any other, and our store staff is doing everything it can to provide a safe shopping experience,” said PLCB Press Secretary Shawn M. Kelly.

An alternative to in-store shopping is to call ahead and place orders for free curbside pickup. That service, launched this spring, still is available at all stores.

With enough lead time, you can also shop online at FWGS.com and have your order shipped to your home or business (free on orders of $100 or more).

But again, don’t wait until the last minute for your winter holiday shopping.

“Customers shopping online are also encouraged to place their orders as early as possible,” says the PLCB, “as many national retailers and shippers are predicting record shipping levels this year.”

— Bob Batz Jr./Pittsburgh Post-Gazette