Restaurant Association President says PA lawmakers used COVID relief to balance state budget instead of help industry

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen advised all residents in the county not to travel unless it was for work or another essential need, during a press conference on Tuesday.

"That order will essentially stop people from going to restaurants, except hopefully for carry out or delivery," said John Longstreet, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, during an interview with KDKA Radio Friday.

Legislators in Harrisburg joined a small group of restaurateur’s from around the state on Wednesday - at the Capital building - to shed light on restaurants that are struggling to stay afloat.

These efforts had a positive impact according to Longstreet, but produced no results.

"Pennsylvania Lawmakers voted to use the remaining $1.3 billion in coronavirus aid, which (they) got out of the CARES Act - designed to get to businesses and individuals who were struggling because of Covid - they decided to use it to balance the state budget," Longstreet said.

This comes after Governor Tom Wolf pushed lawmakers to give relief to the restaurant industry during a press conference in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.

"Lawmakers stood up with us and said we need to get aid to the industry, and then they voted to not give aid to the industry, but instead use the money to balance the budget, which at best is questionable - and may be illegal," Longstreet explains.