Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on Oct. 16 vetoed a bill that would have allowed restaurant owners to decide whether to open to full capacity, saying that the measure “jeopardizes public health and safety” amid the state’s rising number of CCP virus cases.
It would have also removed the requirement that a meal must be purchased to buy an alcoholic beverage.
“These federal and state mitigation guidelines were established to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 because of the severity of this pandemic. These guidelines not only protect customers, they also protect employees and the community,” Wolf wrote.
“To the extent that there is a resurgence of the virus this fall and winter, we need these critical mitigation guidelines to remain in place, and we need to retain the ability to implement further mitigation measures if necessary.”
Wolf said the risk of spreading the virus in restaurant settings is “unique” due to how long people spend interacting in close proximity, and because “prevention practices” such as mask-wearing isn’t possible while eating or drinking.
He added that the state should instead focus on getting children back to school, keeping schools and businesses open, and “taking precautions to keep our communities healthy.”
The bill now goes back to the legislature, and would require a two-thirds majority to override the veto.
Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said last week that the state is far more prepared for an influx of COVID-19 cases that it was at the start of the outbreak, citing more personal protective equipment supplies, a contact tracing program, and sufficient hospital beds.