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State fails to override vetoed bill that would allow restaurants, other businesses to return to full capacity

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Just days after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have allowed restaurants and other businesses to return to full capacity despite the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the State House failed to override it.

The bill, known as HB 2513, was passed in the State House of Representatives on Sept. 23. Under that bill, restaurants, bars, clubs and banquet halls could return to full capacity under each business' discretion.

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According to the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, these are the highlights of the vetoed bill:

  • Allows restaurant operations and private events to be restored to a minimum of 50% capacity with continued social distancing and barriers in use.
  • Eliminates the requirement that meal must be purchased to get an alcoholic beverage.
  • Allows for bar seating, again, with social distancing/barriers.

In the governor’s veto, he said the bill would endanger public health and safety by allowing restaurants to open up to full capacity without regard for state and federal COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

Wolf also said in his letter to state representatives that removing the meal requirement for alcohol consumption “increases the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks” in Pa.

After the governor vetoed the bill, it went back to state legislature where they need a two-thirds majority to override it. However, the chamber was two votes short of the required count (133-69).

Tuesday marked the fourth time the Pa. State House failed to override the governor’s veto.

You can read Wolf’s full statement regarding his decision here.

A statement from the PRLA called the outcome “devastating to the long-term survival of the restaurant, private event and lodging industries.”

John Longstreet, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA) provided a statement to Channel 11, saying:

“The failure to pass HB 2513 is devastating to the long-term survival of the restaurant, private event, and lodging industries. On behalf of the 30,000 businesses and 700,000 hospitality employees across the Commonwealth, the PRLA will not relent in speaking up for the struggling restaurant, private event and lodging industries. The PRLA will seek support and continue to advocate for reasonable, well researched, and common-sense health and safety standards for restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, eliminate self-certification, allow bar seating and remove the required meal with the purchase of alcohol. While the PRLA is grateful to the legislators who stood firm with the industry, we are incredibly disappointed in those who succumbed to misinformation and pressure from the Wolf administration and chose to change their votes.”