Relaxation of rules is progress, but local restaurants are still struggling

In what we would call welcome news, Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced that beginning Monday, restaurants will be permitted to increase how many indoor dine-in customers may permissibly be served at one time — moving back to 50 percent of “normal” capacity or exactly what it was when the takeout-only restriction was first lifted — provided the establishment’s owners self-certify with the state as complying with certain regulations.

As we have highlighted, local restaurants — really eateries throughout the commonwealth — have struggled to make ends meet while adhering to the governor’s restrictions. Some have decided it doesn’t make economic sense to be open when they can serve so few people. We hope that being allowed to double the effective capacity will provide some relief and make it viable for more to be open, but that certainly doesn’t mean restaurant owners are out of the woods yet — not by a long shot.

In fact, if you’re a bar owner who doesn’t serve food, you’re still not even allowed to so much as welcome a single paying customer into your building. If you’re a restaurant owner who also sells alcohol, no transactions involving wine, liquor or beer may take place after 10 p.m., which means you’ll miss out on a significant amount of sales that normally occur after that hour.

Despite the imminent relaxation of some rules, make no mistake, the governor is still essentially asking bar and restaurant owners to try and turn a profit with one hand tied behind their back.

We have said in this space how we’ve disagreed with the governor regarding his unilateral decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have criticized the governor for failing to realize that all jobs — including and especially family businesses such as many of our area restaurants — are “life sustaining.”

We are hopeful this move is a sign Gov. Wolf is starting to realize how much his heavy-handed policies — even if they were put in place with noble intentions — have decimated Pennsylvania’s economy and that many businesses are at or are quickly approaching the point of no return between staying open and permanently closing. Some have already shuttered for good.

In the meantime, to those reading this now, we urge you again. If you want these places to be here for us to visit — both now and when this pandemic is but a chapter in history books — we implore you to frequent your favorite local place.

If you are grateful for our local businesses, please give them the opportunity to show they are grateful for yours.

And remember your servers too.


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