HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Gov. Tom Wolf is lifting some restrictions for bars and restaurants starting April 4.
It’s no secret that the service industry has been served up a raw deal since the pandemic started, but beginning Easter Weekend, capacities can increase, bar service will return and the 11 p.m. alcohol curfew will end.
“Hallelujah, amen,” said Russ Harr, owner of 704 Lounge in Harrisburg.
The Easter Bunny will bring out the barflies and an end to what many business owners say has been one of their biggest barriers — the requirement to buy food in order to drink.
“There’s no reason to have food. What — is COVID sneaking out at night? Is that what’s happening? It’s always been absolutely ridiculous,” said Brett Johnson, owner of 704 Lounge.
Johnson and Harr said they’re thankful to have survived since many of their peers weren’t so lucky. They’re also hopeful for a comeback summer.
“We felt like we’ve been prisoners in our own environment, in our industry,” Harr said.
Matt Flinchbaugh, owner of Flinchy’s in Camp Hill has taken no prisoners in his thoughts on the shutdown.
“The restrictions made no sense,” Flinchbaugh said.
He has mixed feelings. On one hand, being able to make more money is never a bad thing.
“Three hours a day times seven — you know, it’s 21 hours of business a week that we’ve been losing,” Flinchbaugh said.
He said the restrictions should never have been that strict in the first place, and there’s no evidence that they worked.
“I would love for him to look me in the face and tell me why did what he did to thousands of small businesses like me,” Flinchbaugh said.
Some restrictions will still stay in place like mask-wearing and social distancing.
“That’s our responsibility as owners of an establishment to make sure people are safe,” Harr said.
Gyms, movie theaters and casinos can also return to 75% capacity under the new rules.