HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Tuesday that restaurants in Pennsylvania will be able to expand their seating capacity to 50 percent beginning on September 21.
Every county in Pennsylvania had previously reached the “Green Phase” of Wolf’s reopening plan, which allowed for a 50 percent capacity.
Wolf re-implemented statewide restrictions in July — including limiting restaurant and bar capacity to 25 percent — after a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in multiple counties.
Restaurants will have to undergo a self-certification process prior to the expansion.
The certification must include 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, 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.
“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,” Wolf said in a press release. “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 also announced Tuesday that restaurants with alcohol sales now must end the sale of alcohol by 10 p.m.
The decision came about a week after the County Commissioners Association Board of Directors wrote a letter to the Governor regarding the restrictions.
Bradford County Commissioner Daryl Miller is a member of the board.
Miller said the relaxed restrictions are a step in the right direction, but are not nearly enough.
“I’m assuming that many in the restaurant community will be happy that some of the restrictions will be relaxed, (but) I’m sure it’s still going to be a strain,” he said. “In my opinion, it (should) be on a restaurant to restaurant basis, depending on what their abilities to facilitate expansion of customer base are. Obviously some restaurants are bigger than others.”
“We absolutely are going to continue to push for further relaxation of some of these rules,” Miller added.