Restaurant owners that want to increase their indoor capacity to 50% must go through a process online first.
It’s called self-certification, and it’s a pledge stating that the bar or restaurant owner will follow health and safety protocols to protect their customers and workers from COVID-19.
If an owner chooses not to complete it, they’ll have to stay at 25% capacity.
Mike Artim is the co-owner of Balance Restaurant and Mission Inn in Johnstown, who says he was willing to complete the self-certification process if it means he can move to 50% indoor capacity.
“The most important thing for us is we want to move to 50% capacity, because it’s really tough to stay open at 25%. We want to protect our 30+ employees and the job that they have,” Mike says.
Although, local bar and restaurant owner of 33 years Charles Arnone says he’s with about a dozen other local owners who say they’re not signing it.
“We’re pretty much in agreement. It’s too much. We have done everything that they ask for,” Charles says.
Dennis Davin, Secretary of PA Department of Community and Economic Development, says those who choose not to go through this voluntary process are missing out.
“We’ve heard some concerns that restaurants fear that by self-certifying, they could open themselves up to unintended negative consequences like more inspections or fines and penalties. I want to be crystal clear here, that is simply not true,” Dennis says.
Russell Redding, Secretary of the PA Department of Agriculture, says this process is meant to boost sales by letting more people inside the restaurant, while letting them know they’ll be safe.
“Self-certifying your restaurant is an important opportunity to tell the community that you care about their safety and that you’re doing everything that you can to protect them. Self-certification does not mean more inspections or more scrutiny from us. It means more capacity for you, and a sense of security for your patrons,” Russell says.