By Sen. Doug Mastriano, The Center Square
A restaurant from Ohio recently awarded Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf with its “employee of the month award.”
The recognition was tongue-in-cheek, but the honor was very deserving.
After all, Pennsylvanians residing near the Ohio border have been flocking to the Buckeye State to enjoy restaurants, as well as food and beverage establishments, that are either shuttered here or operating at limited capacity.
As part of his unilateral, autocratic mandates, Gov. Wolf shut down all businesses he considered to be non “life sustaining” back in March, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.
(No one knows for sure what criteria, if any, was used to determine what the governor deemed as “life sustaining,” because the governor has refused to comply with a subpoena seeking that information).
Unfortunately, restaurants were adversely impacted during the shutdown and only permitted to offer takeout. Many restaurants were unable to survive on that business model, and closed their doors … some, sadly, for good.
Meanwhile, large box stores and supermarkets were allowed to operate at full capacity. If we can observe social distancing, sanitation and other state and federally recognized health and safety practices at Walmart and Home Depot, why can’t we do the same at mom and pop businesses?
As we approached early June, the governor slowly lifted the flawed color-coded model that he placed upon counties, and allowed restaurants to reopen.
Initially, the restrictions were few. But subsequently, the governor decided more government overreach was needed and quickly imposed a 25 percent capacity limitation upon restaurants.
Bars, if they do not have food, were not allowed to reopen.
Some restaurants simply cannot operate at a 25 percent capacity.
But it got worse.
Surprisingly, the governor – along with his failed Secretary of Health – defined what did and what did not constitute a meal. Since when did we need the government telling us what we are allowed to eat and drink?
The government overreach needs to stop.
Throughout the 2019-20 legislative session, the committee that I chair – the Senate Intergovernmental Operations panel – has passed eight measures that reduce government bureaucracy, streamline regulations and cut red tape.
But for many businesses, including in the 33rd Senate District, it is already too late.
The restaurants that remain open are struggling to survive. Many have already closed their doors because they were unable to cope with the governor’s draconian edicts.
As a member of the General Assembly, I recently called upon Gov. Wolf to provide a specific reopening plan that will allow restaurants, as well as food and beverage establishments, to operate at full capacity.
Instead of helping our businesses recover from the irreparable damage they’ve incurred, the Wolf administration is sending inspectors around to make sure restaurants are complying with social distancing, masks and other pandemic protocols.
There is no specific law detailing any of these practices, but that does not matter to the governor.
The governor and his administration no longer trust state businesses to practice health and safety guidelines.
Instead of being business friendly, Wolf enjoys being a fearmonger.
How are restaurants supposed to operate at 25 percent capacity? What is the next step of Wolf’s so-called plan, and when will those steps occur?
Restaurants cannot continue to operate in this manner. Business owners deserve answers from the Wolf administration.
It is time for leadership, not inaction ambiguity and indecisiveness.
This story was originally published by The Center Square.