HARRISBURG — Two Pennsylvania legislators this week sponsored legislation to reopen restaurants, bars and private clubs in “yellow and green” designated counties.

State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) and Rep. Garth Everett (R-84) said the measures would apply to establishments licensed to serve food and alcohol, as well as non-liquor licensed restaurants. The legislation would not apply to night clubs and music venues.

“Establishments operating dine-in or outdoor services must meet and follow all precautionary and social distancing requirements under our proposals, and mirror a majority of the CDC directives,” Yaw said. “The provisions in this legislation would remain in effect until the Disaster Declaration is terminated and establishments are allowed to return to normal dine-in operations.”

“Recent reports have indicated that over 60 percent of small businesses in Pennsylvania will close permanently if this government shutdown continues,” added Everett. “And the service sector has been especially hit hard with April data showing that the Pennsylvania restaurant industry faces a staggering $1.8 billion in losses. I don’t know how our economy or state budget for that matter recovers from such a revenue loss if we do not act now to get our small businesses and their employees safely back to work soon.”

Under the first bill, establishments with decks, patios, and courtyards could open those outdoor areas, as long as they remain in compliance with a six-foot table distancing rule. Licensed establishments could offer all alcoholic beverages for which they are licensed.

During this step, sidewalk areas that may have regular foot traffic would not be opened to patrons to dine. Establishments which do not have existing outside seating could have temporary outside seating. For those establishments with parking lots, but no previously used outdoor space, this legislation would allow those establishments to design limited seating in a designated part of that area, following the same rules as decks, patios, and courtyards, and “roped” off with a single entry point.

The second bill would allow establishments to begin seating a limited number of patrons inside of those establishments, following the same rules as outdoors, up to a maximum 50 percent premise occupancy with each table at least six feet apart.

As a general rule, the following would be observed for both measures:

  • All employees would be required to wear masks
  • All employees must have regularly scheduled handwashing times, not to exceed hourly
  • All table seatings must be at least six feet apart regardless of seating capacity limitations
  • All tables must be thoroughly disinfected between customers
  • No tables would seat more than eight people
  • No salad bars or self-serve buffets would be permitted
  • Patrons would get one-time paper menus, or use online menus through personal technology, or have plastic covered menus that are sanitized after each use.
  • No table condiments
  • No pre-set tables
  • Patrons would be seated by reservation only to avoid waiting lines
  • Hand sanitizer must be located near entries, and all patrons required to clean hands for entry and departure
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