Petition asks Pennsylvania to increase occupancy in restaurants

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The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association is asking for people's support in getting restaurants back to 50% occupancy

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – Restaurants in Pennsylvania are still limited on how many people they can serve inside, but a petition is asking that things go back to the way they were before.

It’s been a month since restaurants in the state were forced to operate at 25% of their buildings’ occupancy. For some like Lulu Beans Cafe and Coffee House in Sharon, it’s been steady.

It’s tough, you know it is. We’re lucky we’ve been doing decent,” said Jen Krezeczowski from Lulu Beans Cafe.

For some, however, it hasn’t been.

“Twenty-five percent indoor capacity closes restaurants,” said John Longstreet from the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, who is currently sponsoring a ‘Stand With Restaurants’ petition.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association is asking for people’s support in getting restaurants back to 50% occupancy.

“How they got to the 25% we have no explanation, and that’s devastating for restaurants because it makes it impossible to operate for the vast majority of restaurants’ inside capacity,” Longstreet said.

Longstreet said they worked with the state to come up with the previous restaurant guidelines and believes there was no need to change it.

He said this is especially the case in smaller counties like Mercer and Lawrence that have lower COVID-19 numbers in comparison to others across the state.

“Every day that the restaurants have to remain closed temporarily because they can only operate at 25% capacity, that’s another day that a restaurant will never reopen, so every day makes a difference without a doubt,” Longstreet said.

For Krezeczowski, she feels lucky to have a big enough space inside and outside. However, the concern will be as fall and winter approach and they lose those outdoor tables.

“Basically my wheels are constantly spinning of different scenarios we may end up in. Are we going to end up dealing a lot more takeout? Will we go back to takeout only? Who knows. Hopefully that’s not going to happen,” she said.

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