The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association is calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to ease all COVID-19 restrictions even earlier than Memorial Day to help struggling restaurants and bars.
"What we're really hoping that happens is the governor will actually move that date up to May 28," said Ben Fileccia, director of operations and strategy for the association.
Gov. Wolf's office responded to a request for comment from 69 News, saying they're eager to lift restrictions in a way that is quick but also safe for residents.
Currently, all mitigation orders, except for the mask mandate, are planned to be lifted at 12:01 a.m. on Memorial Day, which is May 31.
"These places hope to be packed and they're not gonna be packed if they can't allow their guests to safely come in," said Fileccia.
A few days may seem like a meager request but according to those with the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, it could be a big boost for businesses.
"Listen, they're struggling, they want to get back open," Fileccia said about restaurant owners. "We know in Pennsylvania we probably lost over 20% of all the restaurants. They're having a hard time finding staff."
The governor's press office also touted the impact of the millions of dollars in relief through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), but those with the PRLA say more money will be needed in the months ahead.
"The restaurant revitalization fund — a lot of people have applied," said Fileccia. "The deadline to apply for that is this coming Monday but we also know that that is almost depleted."
The unofficial start of summer and the months to follow will prove to be a crucial measuring point for the future of the restaurant industry in Pennsylvania.
Fileccia said about restaurants, "They have a long way to go before they're back to 2019 numbers and without the additional help from both the state and federal level, a lot of them won't survive this next 14 months."