PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Restaurant and bar owners asked state lawmakers for financial help at a House committee hearing in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
The business owners who testified are hopeful the hearing will give momentum to bills addressing their dire situation in the House and Senate.
Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine was asked about relaxing the 25 percent capacity limit.
“There are no plans at this time to roll that back, because we have to wait and see, I mean our case counts we had over 1,000 new patients (Tuesday),” said Levine.
Dr. Levine was invited to the hearing but declined stating she was busy with other engagements.
Governor Tom Wolf cited an increase in COVID-19 infections when he imposed the new round of restrictions on bars and restaurants two weeks ago. Occupancy was reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent indoors.
John Longstreet of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association tells the KDKA Radio Morning Show,
“The 25 percent came out of the blue, we don’t know where it came from, the only significance is it’s going to put restaurants out of businesses and hundreds of thousands of employees out of work and not make anybody safer,” said Longstreet.
Longstreet adds that when restrictions were imposed for “to go dining and take out” only 50 percent of businesses stayed open and he believes that the same will happen with the 25 percent in-door dining restriction.
On Monday, State Rep. Jake Wheatley said he will introduce legislation that would eliminate penalties and fees for delayed sales tax payments from bars, restaurants, and taverns, as well as provide a grace period for paying the liquor sales tax.
Rep. Wheatley said that these businesses that closed their doors for months in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 deserve the break.