After growing tired of watching elected officials demand they operate at a capacity that is unsustainable for food service locations, 200 restaurateurs in Pennsylvania are staging a revolt.
In an audacious plan, the restaurant owners intend to save their businesses by opening at a larger capacity, with some added safety measures.
RESTAURANT REVOLUTION: Some restaurants across the state are opening at full capacity today in defiance of the Wolf administration, but Allegheny Co. officials say their COVID Enforcement Task Force will still be issuing citations. https://t.co/PCB02ATEbt
— KDKA (@KDKA) August 14, 2020
The movement encourages restaurants to ignore the state’s mandate that food service businesses operate at no more than one-quarter capacity.
The participating restaurants will instead further open their dining rooms by using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Attorney Gary Scoulos, who represents the Southwestern Pennsylvania Restaurant and Tavern Association, said his clients will ignore limits issued by the Wolf administration and instead follow CDC guidelines.
Scoulos told KDKA that the restaurants will be open in the same manner that nationwide retail chains are open.
“Because of financial desperation they wanted to do what they wanted to do and needed to do to survive,” he said.
“Currently, the 25 percent is unworkable,” Scoulos told the outlet.
“Economically, it doesn’t make any sense to open the business,” he said.
The bar is open at @AlsCafePgh despite @GovernorTomWolf’s latest order prohibiting bar service. But the owner of the restaurant says he’s prepared to fight back in what’s being called the ‘Restaurant Revolution’. The story is tonight at 4 on @KDKA. pic.twitter.com/52NRKj5OwY
— Amy Wadas (@AmyWadas) August 14, 2020
Wolf has said he will not rescind the order.
Additionally, Allegheny County health officials told KDKA they will ensure restaurants that open up to 100 percent capacity are cited.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has made the same promise.
But the threat of facing fines will not deter some businesses.
Scoulos said many restaurant owners are willing to take a chance just to try to stay afloat.
“So we might do it, not everybody, every restaurant, diner, caterer, bar, tavern — they have to make their own decisions,” he said.
On the so-called green phase in Pennsylvania, Wolf’s website outlines the restrictions on business.
“Reaching the green phase is a real victory. When put to the test, we are proving our resilience. But we aren’t going back to the way things were before. Now is the time to stay alert so we can keep COVID-19 contained,” it says.
The directive adds, “Restaurants and bars can open indoor dining, up to 25% occupancy.”
HAPPENING TODAY— Al’s Cafe in Bethel Park is one of DOZENS of restaurants opening at full capacity today. They’re defying @GovernorTomWolf order. It’s called a “restaurant revolution.” More on @KDKA pic.twitter.com/tCaWUwUOXM
— Lindsay Ward (@LindsayWardTV) August 14, 2020
The CDC guidelines offer restaurants a bit more wiggle room.
In addition to outlining certain risks and their respective mitigation factors, the federal health agency says of indoor dining that business should require “the use of cloth face coverings among all staff, as feasible.”
“Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. Information should be provided to staff on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings,” it says.
The CDC further advises physical distancing between patrons and advises hygiene and training for restaurant staff, masks, hand washing and signage to remind guests of the measures they can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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