Local restaurants fear record highs in COVID-19 cases could prompt another shutdown

Local restaurants fear record highs in COVID-19 cases could prompt another shutdown

PITTSBURGH — As COVID-19 cases hit another daily record Wednesday, some restaurant owners fear there could be more restrictions on the way.

“I get calls throughout the day...'are we going to be closed down again?'” John Longstreet, President/CEO of the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association, told Channel 11.

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Longstreet, however, is hopeful that there will not be increased restrictions, and rather wants to see the state ease some of its rules on the industry.

“I would be surprised if the governor and the secretary of health believe that a shutdown would actually help anything because it didn’t before and put a lot of people and businesses out of work,” he said.

Longstreet said that the controlled nature of restaurant dining is safer than uncontrolled gatherings that people may resort to if not able to dine out.

However, state officials have maintained that restaurants do pose a risk, though they have likewise stated that there is currently no plan to revert to the red phase. Channel 11 asked a spokesperson Wednesday if restaurants could see new restrictions, but we did not get a clear answer.

New restrictions could be devastating to the restaurant industry, which is already dealing with new challenges as temperatures get colder.

Longstreet said many are innovating by purchasing tents and heaters, but they need more to get by.

He is hoping that state officials will allow bar seating to return and increase the capacity for private events like rehearsal dinners. He added that financial aid should be provided to restaurants.

Last month, Gov. Tom Wolf announced plans to waive liquor license fees, but Longstreet said the savings isn’t enough to make a huge impact.

Pa. reports highest daily COVID-19 increase for second day in a row with over 4,700