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Bill lifting many restaurant restrictions passes despite Governor’s veto threat

While Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has said he intends to veto the measure, House Bill 2513 has passed through the state legislature, to the applause of restaurant industry representatives.

The state House today voted 145-56 on concurrence of the bill, which the state Senate passed Tuesday, that would revert the state’s COVID-19 mitigation restrictions for establishments with liquor licenses mostly to their original form.

When the majority of the state’s counties entered the green phase of Gov. Wolf’s COVID-19 reopening plan in June such establishments were limited to 50% capacity, with social distancing, mask wearing and sanitation requirements. On July 15, the governor issued new orders after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Those orders tied alcohol sales to food purchases, eliminated bar seating and reduced capacity to 25%.

New orders enacted Monday lifted capacity to 50% if the establishments agreed to self-certify that they were in compliance with all health and safety regulations. Alcohol sales, however, were to be cut off at 11 p.m. under the new rule.

Under the bill headed for the governor’s desk, the 11 p.m. cutoff on alcohol sales would be maintained, but the self-certification process would be eliminated, as would the ban on bar seating and the meal requirement.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association urged Gov. Wolf to reconsider his veto pledge. It was among the industry groups that supported of HB 2513.

His veto could be moot, however. Two-thirds, or 67% of both Houses would be needed to override a veto from the governor. In the House that would mean 136 votes are needed and in the Senate: 33 votes are needed.

With the house voting 145-56 and the senate voting 43-6 in favor of the bill, if would seem the votes would be in place to override any veto should the legislature decide to pursue that action.

That is what industry groups indicate they would like to see.

“If there is a veto, we will expect those who stood up for us today to continue standing with us,” said the PLBA in a release.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at swescoe@bridgetowermedia.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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