Senate Votes to Ease Wolf’s Arbitrary Restrictions on Restaurant Industry

The State Senate today approved legislation that would ease Governor Wolf’s arbitrary and burdensome restrictions on owners of bars and restaurants, according to Senator Pat Stefano (R-32), who chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee. 

Stefano authored an amendment to House Bill 2513 that would set the minimum capacity for restaurants and taverns at 50 percent, with the ability for increased capacity if their premises allows.  The bill, as amended, also would:

  • Remove the ban on bar service;
  • Eliminate the meal requirement to purchase alcohol; and
  • Allow for event venues to operate at a minimum of 50 percent capacity. 

During remarks on the Senate floor, Stefano said the bill would provide crucial assistance to the restaurant industry and its workers, which have been hit hard by the Governor’s unfair and arbitrary restrictions. 

Stefano said, “Over the past six months, I have spoken with hundreds of owners of restaurants and taverns, hotels, producers, and event venues.  They have all echoed the same message; no business in this industry can sustain operations at the current capacity.”

The restaurant industry is the second-largest private industry in the country, with over 500,000 employees in Pennsylvania alone.  The Independent Fiscal Office has estimated that Pennsylvania’s foodservice industry has lost over 134,000 workers this year.  Additionally, the House Majority Policy Committee recently received testimony that under these current restrictions, Pennsylvania can expect the permanent closing of 7,500 restaurants, resulting in the loss of 175,000 jobs.

“Overwhelmingly, businesses in this industry have been working hard and in good faith to observe and follow all the various guidelines and regulations issued by the Governor, the Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board,” Stefano said.  “From the beginning, they recognized the need to play a role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and followed health protocols and guidelines to keep their establishments and customers safe.  Despite making every conceivable effort to operate safely, they have faced increasingly burdensome restrictions that are putting many restaurants and bars out of business and people out of work.  These establishments have worked continuously to operate safely, and we need to support them.”

The measure now goes to the House for concurrence.


CONTACT: Jake Gery (