HARRISBURG, Pa. - Restaurants from across the state were pleading for help in a hearing on Tuesday, held by The Republican-led House Majority Policy Committee in Harrisburg.
"This business is hard enough to manage under the most perfect of conditions," said Riki Tanaka, owner of Corner Bistro & Pizza Company in McKean County.
They say not only has the 25% indoor capacity restriction put in place made it impossible to turn a profit, but putting it out without notice cost them thousands of dollars.
"The governor needs to understand that we can't go from 50% to 25% in 8 1/2 hours notice," said Rui Lucas, owner of Na'Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse & Iron Abbey in Montgomery County.
"I can accept 50%, I prefer 75%," said Tanaka. “I am asking that the governor please use some common sense when trying to navigate this pandemic.”
The president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association told lawmakers that around 7,500 restaurants could close because of the indoor restrictions. The restaurant industry employs nearly 600,000 people in the state.
Ed Hanna, owner of Union and Finch in Allentown, is worried the restrictions will continue into the winter.
"Depending on how much seating you have outside, depending on the weather, 25% just doesn't cut it for most of us," he said. "If we stay at 25% and we cannot do outdoor seating because of the weather, you know, what's that gonna mean for some of our staff?"
If things don't change, business owners who spoke said they will need financial assistance from the state.
"We are struggling to pay our bills, we are struggling to keep our facilities open," Lucas said.
"Let's focus on the bad actors, rather than shutting down the entire industry," said John Longstreet, President and CEO of the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine was invited to testify but instead submitted written remarks. She defended the decision to increase restrictions, saying it's an effective mitigation measure.