Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf vetoes bill to reopen restaurants at full capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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Gov. Tom Wolf Image 6
Source: Pennsylvania Official Government Website

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that will allow the reopening of restaurants at full capacity, citing the reason that it will “increase the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Garth Everett introduced House Bill 2513, which he believes a “common-sense step in the right direction towards recovery.” The State House passed the bill on September 23.

Gov. Wolf strongly disagrees that reopening restaurants and other eating establishments at full capacity will help the state recover from the public health and economic crisis.

Pennsylvania COVID-19 cases are increasing

In his veto message, Gov. Wolf stated that Pennsylvania is experiencing an increase in the number of people infected by the deadly virus. The State had 172,169 confirmed cased of COVID-19 and 8,457 Pennsylvanians passed away due to the disease as of October 16.

According to the governor, he cannot approve House Bill 2513 because it “jeopardizes public health and safety.” He noted that the bill allows eating establishments such as restaurants, clubs, bars, and banquet halls to operate up to 100% capacity without following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the State to protect employees, customers, and communities and reduce the risk of spreading of COVID-19.

“By eliminating these critical protections, in addition to removing certain limits related to bar serviced and purchasing of alcoholic beverages, this bill increases the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreak,” said Gov. Wolf.

Additionally, the governor explained that Pennsylvania needs to maintain “these critical guidelines” since health experts are saying that “there is a resurgence of the virus this fall and winter.”

A “meaningless attempt” to change a critical tool for combating COVID-19

Gov. Wolf further said, “We need to retain the ability to implement further mitigation measures if necessary. As we learned this summer, the risk of spreading COVID-19 in restaurant settings is unique due to the length of interaction with others in proximity and the inability to utilize prevention practices such as wearing masks.”

Moreover, Gov. Wolf noted that House Bill 2513 “contains constitutional infirmities” citing the fact that it “attempts to take away executive authority” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This bill represents another meaningless attempt to change a necessary tool for fighting the pandemic,” said Gov. Wolf.

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