ALTOONA, Pa. — Starting Monday, restaurants in the state are eligible to move their seating from 25 to 50% capacity — it’s a change that comes with a certification process. But the question now is whether businesses plan to move forward with the application or keep their business on a 25% model.
For the first time since the pandemic – restaurants are able to operate at 50%. The Department of Community and Economic Development says businesses will have to go through a self-certification process – which would appear as an open & certified database. Restaurants have the option to certify or not.
Masking, social distancing measures are still in place, and another change is on the way–
the last call for alcohol has been pushed to 11 p.m.
Any food establishment that wishes to expand its indoor capacity must complete an online self-certification process by October 5th.
A number of restaurants we spoke with say they don’t plan on moving forward with the process because they’d be signing away their rights and would have to follow guidelines or they could be held criminally responsible.
The Wolf administration said the move to 50% is completely voluntary and something that businesses have been wanting for a while.
“This ensures that they can expand their business to 50% which is something that they’ve wanted to do for quite some time, and that will allow them to gain more financial stability as we begin the process of recovery in the commonwealth,” said Media Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Casey Smith.
The administration said the move would not lead to additional inspections. They say in fact, certifying proves they are committed to protecting employees and making sure customers have a safe dining experience.
Any violations would be handled with warnings and education first rather than fines or penalties.