Pennsylvania To Increase Restaurant Capacity Starting September 21
Pennsylvania restaurants, including those in Centre County, can increase their indoor dining occupancies to 50% starting Monday, September 21, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration announced Tuesday.
Additionally, the state will require restaurants that serve alcohol to close sales by 10 p.m. nightly.
The state said restaurants must continue strictly complying with public health safety guidelines and orders through a self-certification process to limit the coronavirus’ spread.
“While our aggressive and appropriate mitigation efforts have kept case counts low, we must continue to take important steps to protect public health and safety as we head into the fall. At the same time, we must also support the retail food services industry that has struggled throughout this pandemic,” Wolf said in a release. “The self-certification ensures that restaurants can expand indoor operations and commit to all appropriate orders so that employees and customers alike can be confident they are properly protected.”
Self-certified restaurants will eventually appear in a searchable online database of certified restaurants across the state. Wolf’s administration believes the system will help consumers make “more informed choices” about their dining preferences.
“We recognize the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Pennsylvania’s small businesses, especially on our restaurants,” Wolf said. “Through this self-certification process, our commonwealth’s restaurant industry will ensure the safety and well-being of both employees and patrons alike, and will be able to begin a return to normal operations and financial recovery.”
Pennsylvania will release information for self-certification online beginning September 21. The program, dubbed “Open & Certified Pennsylvania,” will ask restaurants to meet safety requirements, report maximum indoor occupancies based on fire codes, and sign statements acknowledging ownership is subject to penalties for potential violations.
To increase capacity to 50% starting September 21, restaurants must complete the online self-certification process by October 5.
Back in July, Wolf’s administration reduced indoor dining capacity to 25% in response to rising coronavirus cases statewide. Pennsylvania also mandated establishments must serve food alongside alcohol.
As of Tuesday morning, Pennsylvania has reported 139,863 cases and 7,780 deaths statewide. Centre County, meanwhile, has totaled 674 cases since the first was reported on March 20. Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has reported 11 Centre County coroanvirus-related deaths.
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