BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — Business owners say the new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings are another blow to an already struggling industry.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf imposed the new restrictions as the state reported nearly 1,000 new coronavirus infections, continuing a recent resurgence of the virus.
Just as things were getting back to semi-normal — in a social distancing way — at the Harmony Inn in Butler County, the summertime recovery stride went backward again.
“When he comes out and blames the bars and restaurants, the hospitality industry, that’s what I have a problem with,” said Harmony Inn owner Bob McCafferty.
McCafferty agrees safety is first. But the restaurant’s large outdoor seating area allows for distance and following current rules. He wonders why everyone has to pay the price.
“If there are bad operators, those are the ones that should be fined and exited,” McCafferty told KDKA News.
There are similar feelings at Brown’s Country Kitchen in Portersville.
“We have a big order coming in tomorrow for the weekend and I didn’t know that when I ordered it today,” said Harold Brown of Brown’s Country Kitchen.
Now the already reduced seating will get cut in half again. Gretchen Brown says the lack of information from state officials is disheartening.
“The Department of Health never calls us, we don’t receive a letter. It’s what we hear on the news,” said Gretchen.
The owners say they are worried about their employees and paying the bills.
“They still have to pay their rent or their mortgage or business loans,” said Chuck Moran, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. “They have to pay staff, they have to pay their utilities, they have to pay bills. They are doing everything possible to survive, but they’re going to need a little bit of help on this one.”
Businesses in violation of the new state orders could be subject to fines, business closure or other enforcement measures, according to the governor’s office.