ARCHBALD, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Restaurants, bars and clubs are among the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic.
Restrictions are lifting slowly but owners are saying it’s not fast enough. And now, state lawmakers are pushing for restaurant relief.
The Senate recently amended House Bill 2513 and has bi-partisan support. It will help provide a base for businesses that serve food and or drinks during a “state of emergency”, like we’re currently in.
At the start of the pandemic the owners of Tiffany’s Tap and Grill laid off all 38 employees. They’ve only been able to bring back five.
“Not a single industry has been targeted more or more negatively impacted by the actions of the state of Pennsylvania. Our sales are currently down 40 percent. What business can survive that type of revenue loss? The answer is simple, none,” said Tom Farrell, owner of Tiffany’s.
Tom Farrell and his wife Cheryl have been trying to survive on outdoor dining, very limited indoor seating and curbside pick-up. What’s hurting them even more is that their operating capital is tied up in inventory.
“We have no way of covering our investment if we’re not allowed or given the opportunity to sell it,” said Farrell.
State House and Senate legislators are proposing a comprehensive restaurant relief package in Harrisburg.
“To provide significant grants to local restaurants, bars and clubs, reduce and eliminate specific licensing fees, extend discounts to licensees and protect businesses by guaranteeing their insurance pays out in similar emergencies,” said Rep. Kyle Mullins.
Along with the change to licensing, the state Senate added language that will allow restaurants, bars, hotels, breweries, wineries and other establishments that serve food and/or drinks to operate at a minimum of 50 percent indoor occupancy by following social distance guidelines. An establishment may be permitted to operate above that percentage if CDC guidelines allow it.
“Restaurant, bars, social clubs, caterers, event venues… we should be investing and protecting them so that they’re still there as a fabric of our community as we exit this pandemic,” said Sen. John Blake.
HB 2513 will have to go back to the house floor for a vote before it can become law. This comes as Governor Wolf is now allowing restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity, but stopping the sale of alcohol at 10 p.m.