Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Commonwealth to allow restaurants to double indoor capacity to 50 percent

Many Harrisburg restaurants, including Mangia Qui and Rubicon, have expanded their outdoor dining this summer.

The commonwealth soon will permit restaurants to double their indoor capacity, allowing 50-percent occupancy.

Gov. Tom Wolf today said that restaurants will be allowed to increase occupancy starting on Sept. 21, but only for those who agree to a self-certification.

“While our aggressive and appropriate mitigation efforts have kept case counts low, we must continue to take important steps to protect public health and safety as we head into the fall,” Wolf said, in a statement. “At the same time, we must also support the retail food services industry that has struggled throughout this pandemic.”

In June, Wolf loosened restrictions so that restaurants in the state could operate at 50 percent capacity. However, COVID-19 caseloads began to creep up, prompting Wolf in July to reduce occupancy to 25-percent capacity indoors.

Many restaurants, including those in Harrisburg, responded by expanding outdoors dining as much as they could. However, restaurateurs have been worried about their business as the weather begins to cool, making outdoors dining less feasible.

Wolf today said restaurants could expand to 50-percent indoor capacity only if they self-certify that they are complying with all public health safety guidelines and orders.

“The self-certification ensures that restaurants can expand indoor operations and commit to all appropriate orders so that employees and customers alike can be confident they are properly protected,” he said, in a statement.

The self-certification documents and information can be found online starting Sept. 21 and will contain the following:

  • A list of requirements contained in the current restaurant industry guidanceand enforcement efforts
  • A statement that the owner has reviewed and agrees to follow these requirements
  • The business’ maximum indoor occupancy number based on the fire code
  • A statement that the owner understands that the certification is subject to penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities

Any restaurant that wishes to increase to 50 percent indoor capacity on Sept. 21 must complete the online self-certification process by Oct. 5.

Restaurants that self-certify will appear in the “Open & Certified Pennsylvania” searchable online database of certified restaurants across the commonwealth, which will be available for public viewing, according to the state.

“We recognize the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Pennsylvania’s small businesses, especially on our restaurants,” Wolf said. “Through this self-certification process, our commonwealth’s restaurant industry will ensure the safety and well-being of both employees and patrons alike, and will be able to begin a return to normal operations and financial recovery.”

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