(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry said Monday it’s up to House Republicans to initiate a veto override of a bill that would have lifted the pandemic restrictions they say have caused their members irreparable harm. 

Gov. Tom Wolf rejected House Bill 2513 last week on grounds that easing social distancing mandates and allowing bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity, rather than 50 percent, would jeopardize the health and safety of residents. 

“By eliminating these critical protections, in addition to removing certain limits related to bar service and purchasing of alcoholic beverages, this bill increases the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks,” he said in his veto message on Friday. 

The Department of Health has reported more than 172,000 cases of COVID-19 across the state since March 6, with more than 8,400 deaths in as many months. In a news conference Monday, Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine urged residents remain vigilant as the long-anticipated fall surge of cases emerges. 

What’s proven, critics say, is that limits on capacity and alcohol sales will shutter more than 7,000 establishments across the state and leave more than 200,000 residents unemployed.

“From the general public, we are seeing community spread of COVID-19 in every region of Pennsylvania,” Levine told reporters Monday. “Maybe not every county, but certainly every region. That is from frequenting a restaurant or a gathering … or even small gatherings of family and friends where people might not be as vigilant.”

Critics argue, however, that the administration bases its guidance on politics and fear – not science – and remains skeptical that limiting service at restaurants lessens the spread of the virus.

What’s proven, critics say, is that limits on capacity and alcohol sales will shutter more than 7,000 establishments across the state and leave more than 200,000 residents unemployed.

“All eyes are watching what the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will do next to help small business taverns and licensed restaurants,” said Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

Jason Gottesman, spokesperson for the House GOP, said the caucus is reviewing its options after sending the bill to the governor’s desk with broad bipartisan support.

“House Bill 2513 is an important piece of recovery legislation designed to help the hospitality industry and workers, which have been devastated by Gov. Wolf’s statewide unilateral shutdowns and restrictions,” he said.

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.

This piece was originally published in The Center Square. Read the original article here.

Leave a (Respectful) Comment

Your email address will not be published.