Sainato calls return to 50% capacity good news for local restaurants but questions alcohol service restrictions

NEW CASTLE, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, said he is encouraged by news that restaurants may return to 50% indoor capacity beginning Sept. 21, subject to a self-certification requirement, but he questioned new and existing alcohol service restrictions he said could negate or dilute any positive economic impacts.  

We called on the governor to lift an overly broad, arbitrary rule that placed restaurants in an economic stranglehold, and we succeeded. The administration’s response abolishing the rule comes none too soon, with so many restaurants struggling to survive. Restoring the 50% capacity rule makes sense and will help our businesses get back on the path to economic vitality.

“At the same time, the administration is keeping certain harmful restrictions in place, including a ban on bar service and a requirement that alcohol can only be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal. Those requirements – together with another that will require restaurants to stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. – stand to counter many of the positive impacts achieved by restoring broader occupancy.

“Restaurants depend on a robust after-dinner patronage, and many social and veterans’ clubs are not set up to serve food. Absent a sound, health-based justification, I would urge the governor to reconsider these restrictions.”

Restaurants wishing to return to 50% capacity must complete an online self-certification process by Oct. 5 vouching that they will follow current restaurant industry guidance and enforcement efforts. Restaurants that self-certify will appear in an online, searchable database.

More information on the governor’s ruling is available here, and a document answering frequently asked questions about the self-certification process can be found here.

In a July 28 letter to the governor co-signed by several other lawmakers, Sainato called on Wolf to restore the 50% capacity guideline, warning that the 25% restriction would do more harm than good.