Longietti lauds passage of bill to loosen restaurant, bar restrictions

House Bill 2513 would raise capacity limit, relax alcohol rules

HERMITAGE, Sept. 23 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, issued the following statement in response to House passage of H.B. 2513, which would expand bar, restaurant and banquet hall capacity to a minimum of 50%, permit patrons to sit at bars and remove the requirement of a meal with alcohol purchase.

“I voted for House Bill 2513 because I believe this legislation is critical for the continued existence of local bars, restaurants and banquet halls. The legislation provides important safeguards, including social distancing and physical barriers, when needed, but also provides for greater than 50% occupancy if allowed by Centers for Disease Control guidelines. It would also allow bingo halls to operate at these same occupancy levels.

“Our bars, restaurants and banquet and bingo halls have been up against impossible odds. They are being asked to operate under capacity limits that make it impossible for them to survive – while at the same time facing direct competition from businesses over the state line.

“These establishments have already shown that they know how to safeguard patrons. An arbitrary capacity limit of 25% does nothing to enhance public safety and is instead dealing a crushing blow to these mom-and-pop businesses that are the lifeblood of our local economy.

“I’m encouraged that many of my colleagues joined me in supporting this important legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support,” Longietti said.

The bill passed on a 145-56 concurrence vote, in which the House agreed to Senate amendments to the bill. It now heads to the governor.