Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that restaurants in the state can increase their indoor seating capacity to 50%.
But it doesn’t start until Sept. 21. At that time, the Governor also ordered that restaurants must issue a last call for alcohol sales at 10 p.m.
These orders further spread a false narrative that these businesses are somehow responsible for an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania. That’s a claim Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine have failed at proving is true.
The order also comes on the same day that legislators in Harrisburg were voting on the exact same issue. That’s only the latest in a long line of issues where the General Assembly was debating an issue or had voted on one only to have the Governor issue an order with the same wording or intent.
Meanwhile, as the Governor ignores the legislature, he’s also trying to bully them into debating and passing legislation he feels is necessary during a pandemic and emergency declaration which gives him sole ownership of the state’s bully pulpit.
So, when they debate or pass legislation that Wolf doesn’t like, the Governor vetoes it. If he agrees with it, he generally vetoes the legislation passed and then issues an executive order with the same tone.
Wolf Says Pennsylvania Restaurants Can Operate at 50% Capacity – No Booze Sales After 10
Back in July, Wolf ordered Pennsylvania restaurants to reduce their indoor seating capacity to just 25%. At that time, the order was called a “stake in the heart” of many small businesses by State Sen. Dave Argall.
Wolf also said at that time bars must close completely. The only way a customer could order alcohol was if they ordered a meal with their drinks. And then when businesses decided to get fresh with the Governor’s order by serving simple “meals” like buttered bread, as was the case with one Schuylkill County business, Wolf had the PLCB issue a statement defining what a meal was and wasn’t.
It was the height of absurdity until … mid-August.
That’s when a Johnstown restaurant bar said he was visited by members of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement which said he’d be cited because his customers weren’t eating enough of their meals.
This whole time, the Wolf administration failed to prove that restaurants and bars were actually responsible for the slight uptick in positive China virus cases. At least one news outlet pressed the administration on this issue but came up mostly empty on the topic. The only thing true was that restaurants and bars were some of the only businesses which the state has nearly complete control over, save for nursing homes and long term care facilities.
And we saw how their handling of those businesses has worked out for everyone.
Restaurants Must “Self-Certify” Compliance with New Order
In announcing today’s update to the indoor seating capacity for restaurants, Wolf said in a statement, “While our aggressive and appropriate mitigation efforts have kept case counts low, we must continue to take important steps to protect public health and safety as we head into the fall. At the same time, we must also support the retail food services industry that has struggled throughout this pandemic. The self-certification ensures that restaurants can expand indoor operations and commit to all appropriate orders so that employees and customers alike can be confident they are properly protected.”
Wolf says consumers will be able to search an online database of restaurants that have filed self-certification documents. Consumers will find the following information from that database once it’s created:
- A list of requirements contained in the current restaurant industry guidance and enforcement efforts;
- A statement that the owner has reviewed and agrees to follow these requirements;
- The business’ maximum indoor occupancy number based on the fire code; and
- A statement that the owner understands that the certification is subject to penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities.