Local bars and restaurants say no relief in new capacity changes

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ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — As area businesses continue to struggle their frustration toward government guidelines is becoming more apparent. 

On September 8, Governor Wolf announced that bars and restaurants will be allowed to increase from 25 percent capacity to 50 percent capacity starting on September 21, following an online self-certification protocol.

Area businesses are questioning whether or not the new order is even more restrictive, however, given the new certification requirements as well as the ban of alcohol sales after 10 p.m.

Richard McGarvey, who owns a bar in downtown Altoona, says he feels the ban of late-night alcohol sales will especially hurt small businesses like his, saying, “it’s your mom and pop’s that are staying open later and we rely on all crowds that are coming in at any time of the evening.”

McGarvey says that he and other area restaurant owners feel that despite following all of the guidelines, their businesses are being unfairly targeted in an attempt to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus.

Mike Luciano, who owns Mike’s Court in downtown Altoona, says that while the increase in capacity means more seating, he still will have to close shop during what would normally be peak business times.  

“We were going to try to open up for Monday night football because this is a sports bar and now there’s really no need to,” said Luciano, “the games don’t start until 9:15 and if you cant serve a little bit of alcohol after 10, there’s just no use of staying open.”

Bar and restaurant owners are required to register to become self-certified by October 5, meaning that their business will appear on a government database that states they are following all guidelines and safety protocols, some of which they won’t even know are required until September 21.

Thus giving area bar and restaurant owners two weeks total from the 50 percent capacity start date to figure out how to comply with all of the guidelines and register for certification with the state.  

Businesses like Mike’s Court and McGarvey’s say that this seems like yet another unfair task.

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