State Democratic lawmakers weigh restaurant owners’ concerns about pandemic capacity limits and cold weather plans

Written by on September 8, 2020

State Democratic lawmakers weigh restaurant owners’ concerns about pandemic capacity limits and cold weather plans

By Staci Inez & Jim Deegan

September 8, 2020

The state Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing Friday about COVID-19’s impact on the restaurant industry. Senator Lisa Boscola of Bethlehem chairs the panel.

“Outdoor seating has been a lifeline for many of our restaurants but as we get closer to the colder months, these businesses need a plan. And on top of that, many restaurants because of their location, outside dining wasn’t even an option,” said Boscola.

Bethlehem Apollo Grill owner Rachel Griffith says she’s grateful to be open and to have her entire staff back. But she says the state’s occupancy restrictions are too severe.

“The 25 percent is killing us because of the fact that we do have a larger staff and we have to include them in those numbers. In a perfect world, I would ask that the 50 percent or whatever the capacity is, does not include your staff,” said Griffith.

More than a dozen business owners and representatives testified. Lawmakers suggested grants and tax cuts as possible solutions. Boscola, whose district includes parts of Lehigh and Northampton counties, said she plans to use the hearing to advocate for more funding and urge the administration to reconsider some restrictions.

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