Sainato calls on Wolf to lift 25% capacity for restaurants, bars

Chris Sainato, seen here speaking at New Castle's 2018 Memorial Day service, is calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to lift his recent restriction imposing a 25 percent indoor capacity on restaurants and bars.

HARRISBURG – Calling it unnecessarily restrictive and damaging to the local economy, state Reps. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, and Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, have written to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to lift his recent restriction imposing a 25 percent indoor capacity on restaurants and bars.

The lawmakers’ letter calls on Wolf to restore the previous 50 percent capacity guidelines, saying the new restriction does more harm than good.

“The governor is punishing all restaurants and bars for the failure of a few bad actors who are failing to comply with safety guidelines,” Sainato said. “The problem with that approach is that it hurts everyone while failing to get at the root of the problem.

“It’s noncompliance with safety procedures – not a particular number of patrons – that jeopardizes community health. We should be focusing on cracking down on the bad apples, not enforcing an overreaching measure that threatens to drive our local restaurants and bars out of business.”

Longietti agreed, saying “Reducing the maximum patron capacity to 25% won’t help keep anyone safer; it will merely threaten the viability of restaurants and bars that are trying to comply and do the right thing.

“The restriction is especially difficult for our local restaurants and bars because they must compete with businesses in nearby Ohio, which are operating under less restrictive rules. Must our local business owners be forced to sit by and watch as residents cross state lines to patronize competing establishments? This is income that should be returning to our own local economy, not helping to enrich neighboring states.”

The letter is co-signed by state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria; state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie; state Rep. Joe Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana; and state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre.

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