New website provides Pa. residents access to reproductive health care resources

In the aftermath of the Texas decision to restrict access to medication abortions nationwide, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro recently launched a website for reproductive health care resources to provide facts and information. 

The new site serves to remind Pennsylvanians that the Texas ruling does not affect residents or non-residents seeking to access abortion services. 

“Your rights and freedoms here in Pennsylvania have not changed – you can get a safe, legal medication abortion using mifepristone in our commonwealth,” Shapiro said in a statement. “As your governor, I believe decisions on reproductive care are to be made between women and their doctors, not extremist politicians, or radical court rulings.” 

Shapiro called the Texas judge’s attempt to restrict access to medication abortions as an attack on a woman’s right to choose. 

“This is about protecting our freedoms,” Shapiro stated, “and I won’t back down from that fight.” 

The new website is designed to aid those seeking reproductive health care services, regardless of where they live in Pennsylvania or if they are arriving from a state that restricts abortion access. 

Shapiro said his administration is exploring options to keep medication abortion accessible, expand access to reproductive care, and safeguard freedom of choice. The latter includes defending abortion access as a party to the recent federal court ruling in Washington state under Attorney General Michelle Henry. 

Those accessing the Shapiro Administration’s new site can find information regarding medication abortions along with in-clinic procedure abortions. The website launched days after a Northern District of Texas judge reversed the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of an abortion pill regimen consisting of mifepristone followed by misoprostol. 

FDA approval of the two-step process dated back decades and is used today in more than 50% of abortions. Medication abortions often use the two-step process, and the medications can be obtained at abortion clinics, pharmacies, or by mail. 

A federal judge in Washington state ruled in a different case that Pennsylvania is party to, that mifepristone is safe and effective. The judge ordered the FDA to preserve the status quo and retain access to the drug in the 17 states and Washington, D.C. that are behind the second lawsuit. 

Shapiro joined a Reproductive Freedom Alliance with 20 other governors in February, safeguarding abortion access, protect abortion providers, and affirm abortion rights. Shapiro also maintained former Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order making certain that non-residents seeking abortion care in Pennsylvania can do so and not be subject to arrest or detainment at the request of another state.

New agreement proposes to cap MCO profits to ensure taxpayer dollars benefit Pennsylvanians

A new profit-sharing agreement between Pennsylvania and its Medical Assistance physical health (PH) managed care organizations (MCOs) has been proposed to ensure taxpayer dollars benefit vulnerable citizens, Governor Tom Wolf announced. 

Under the proposed agreement, which would take effect in 2023, PH-MCOs will be capped at annual profits of 3 % and be required to invest additional profits in approved initiatives and projects aimed at benefiting individual health and well-being. 

“At a time when managed care organizations are seeing incredible returns, it is only right that excess dollars be funneled back into helping the very people those organizations serve,” Wolf said. “This agreement is a responsible use of public money and will put a cap on annual profits to allow the wealth to be shared among those who need it most.” 

MCOs will be able to maintain 3 % profit annually under the proposed profit-sharing agreement. Each MCO will have an opportunity to submit proposals to retain these profits to be used to support initiatives in line with the goals of the Department of Human Services (DHS).  

These goals include achieving health equity, employment supports, food security, housing, and programs focused on community development. The DHS’ Office of Medical Assistance Programs will approve and track each proposal’s measurable goals. All or a portion of the profits may be recouped by DHS should approved programs fail to meet their goals. 

“Managed care organizations are important partners in our work to help Medical Assistance recipients access the care and services necessary to achieve the health and quality of life they deserve,” Acting Secretary Meg Snead said. “This profit-sharing agreement will allow us to ensure that taxpayer resources for this program can be used to further invest in the program’s mission or be returned to offset program costs.” 

MCOs work with the DHS to negotiate and establish rates paid on a monthly basis based on how many members they have. To ensure the program remains financially solvent while allowing for profit of 2-3 %, capitation rates are developed. 

Over the last three years, an overall increase in the physical health program’s profits have exceeded 3 %. As this trend is expected to continue, an opportunity exists to require investments by the PH-MCOs in the Medical Assistance population. The excess profit would be spent on people the funding is intended to benefit. 

More than three million Pennsylvanians are covered by the Medical Assistance program. This profit-sharing agreement is intended to leverage Medical Assistance to ensure taxpayer money aids lower income and vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

Governor Tom Wolf renews disaster declaration as General Assembly receives new powers to dismantle it

Gov. Tom Wolf renewed the state’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on Thursday. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Gov. Tom Wolf renewed the state’s 90-day Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on Thursday for the fifth time since the pandemic began last year.

The renewed proclamation comes just two days after Pennsylvanians voted to limit gubernatorial disaster emergency declaration powers through two ballot questions on Pennsylvania’s primary election day.

The Wolf administration still plans to lift all mitigation measures on Memorial Day, but needs more time under the current disaster declaration, Wolf said in a press release on Thursday.

“We will continue to monitor vaccination rates and adjust mitigation orders accordingly,” he said. “I have been in touch with the General Assembly regarding this extension, and we will continue to collaborate on the future of this disaster declaration and any future declarations that become necessary to help Pennsylvanians in the midst of an emergency.”

Renewing the declaration allows the state to continue its increased support for state agencies and allows for waivers and extensions to be given to Pennsylvanians and businesses, including the ability to waive the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation.

While the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency has been signed for another 90 days, it is expected to end much sooner thanks to new powers granted to the General Assembly by way of this week’s primary elections.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvanians voted in favor of proposed constitutional amendments One and Two by 52% each. Amendment One concerns the termination or extension of a disaster emergency declaration and Two deals with disaster emergency declaration and management.

Because of the yes vote on both proposals, the General Assembly will be able to either terminate or extend a disaster declaration issued by the governor.

The Wolf administration’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts have been a point of contention in the General Assembly, with many saying that the governor’s efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic harmed the state’s economy more than it helped limit exposure.

Leaders of the General Assembly are currently in talks with Wolf to discuss next steps, said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland). Ward said that talks between the assembly’s leaders and Wolf started with a review of the emergency declaration.

“Moving forward, the General Assembly will operate under the framework established with the recent constitutional changes approved by the voters on Tuesday, and will apply these changes to the governor’s renewal of the emergency declaration as we transition the state out of emergency status without jeopardizing federal dollars and to expedite the vaccine rollout,” said Ward.

Governor Tom Wolf extends maximum capacity for outdoor and indoor events

Both indoor and outdoor events and gatherings will be able to increase their maximum occupancy limits beginning Monday, May 17.

The Wolf Administration announced on Tuesday that maximum occupancy limits will be increased from 25% to 50% for indoor events and gatherings and from 50% to 75% for outdoor events and gatherings.

The loosening of occupancy limits is a direct response to more Pennsylvanians getting vaccinated as well as evolving guidance from the CDC, said Gov. Tom Wolf.

“We recognize the significant strain businesses have faced during COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” Wolf said. “Throughout the last year and half, we have seen businesses continue to put the safety of their patrons first and I believe they will continue to do so even with this capacity increase.”

Events and gatherings include fairs, festivals, concerts or shows and groupings that occur within larger, more permanent businesses such as amusement parks, business meetings and more.

Face coverings are still expected to be worn indoors and outdoors and businesses and venues can implement stricter mitigation efforts if they wish to.

Wolf announced last week that Pennsylvania will lift all COVID-19 restrictions, except the order to wear a mask in public, on Memorial Day.

Pennsylvanians will continue to be required to wear masks until 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the commonwealth.

Wolf administration approves $5 million in funds for Pa. startups

Three venture capital firms have won approval to receive up to $5 million in funding to invest in Pennsylvania startups.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority announced on Thursday that the authority approved two in-state firms and one out-of-state firm to invest millions into up-and-coming Pennsylvania businesses.

Conshohocken-based SeventySix Capital Fund II LP, was recommended for up to $2 million in state funds. SeventySix, which refers to itself as a sports tech venture capital fund, is expected to use the funds for early-stage high-growth companies with a focus on sports digitization, esports and sports betting.

The company said it will use the funds to invest $250,000 to $2 million into each company it chooses with a reserve for follow-on investment.

412 Venture Fund LP, a Pittsburgh-based firm focused on investment opportunities within the city, plans to use the fund to target investments of $100,000 to $1 million in pre-seed and early-stage companies.

Finally, SoundBoard Venture Fund LP, based in Montclair, New Jersey, is expected to receive $1 million in funds and will target investments in pre-seed and early-stage companies with an emphasis on agriculture, insurance, manufacturing, real estate and construction, supply chain/logistics and urban planning and transportation.

“It is critical that we invest in start-up companies now for the benefit of our future, and the investments made today will help promising businesses receive the assistance they need to take their next step,” said Dennis Davin, DCED Secretary. “Investments in budding industries and technologies will position Pennsylvania as the best place to live and work, with a friendly business climate and an enhanced quality of life.”

Pa. businesses take firm line on economic recovery in GOP survey

Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre County) and Martin Causer (R-McKean) discuss a new survey of Pennsylvania businesses on Tuesday. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

The biggest challenges for Pennsylvania businesses include continued declines in customer volume, financial concerns and limitations from Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation orders, according to a recent survey of 921 businesses.

The survey was conducted by the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus and presented in a report created by Martin Causer (R-McKean), chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee.

Respondents included businesses from all but two counties and a wide variety of industries such as food and dining, health and medicine, construction, manufacturing and more.

The four-question survey asked business owners what they want the state legislature to know about the challenges facing their industry, what type of assistance would be most beneficial, what change would make the greatest impact to their business and what other suggestions they had for the state’s economic recovery.

Causer and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre County) presented the report, which will be given to the caucus for future policy making, during a press conference on Tuesday.
The 42-page report’s overriding message can be summed up as “get out of the way,” according to Causer.

“The bottom line is, if we want our state and regional economies to bounce back and be better than they were before, we need to get government out of the way and focus on policies that lower the cost of doing business and give employers and investors the tools they need to lead and succeed,” he said.

Asked about the current challenges facing Pennsylvania’s businesses, 31% of respondents said their biggest challenge was related to the governor’s shutdown orders, restrictions and capacity limits.

Respondents also reported financial concerns, customer declines, and hiring workers or getting previous workers back to work.

Businesses in the survey most commonly noted grants, loans and financial help as the type of assistance that would be the most helpful to receive from the state. The second most common answer was opening businesses up, followed by limiting regulations.

Of the respondents, 28% said the greatest impact on the future success of their business would come from a reduction in taxes, closely followed again by the request for the state to reopen businesses.

On the fourth question, “What other suggestions do you have to kick-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery?” respondents suggested for the third time that the state fully reopen businesses to 100% capacity.

“Nearly a third (32%) of all respondents suggested the best way to kick-start the economy was for them to be open for business. These business owners want to be able to operate,” Causer wrote in the report. “Essentially, they want government to let responsible business owners run their businesses and employ their workers. The best kick-start to the economy is to let businesses do what they do best.”

As of April 1, Pennsylvania’s restaurants are permitted to allow bar service and both dine-in and bar service in indoor and outdoor areas at 75% capacity if they are self-certified with the state’s Open and Certified Pennsylvania program.

Gyms and fitness facilities, as well as In-person retail businesses such as museums, amusement, casinos and theaters more can operate at up to 75% capacity.

Pennsylvania’s business community has already surmounted many of the challenges placed in front of it through the pandemic and will be able to drive the state’s economic recovery forward with help from the legislature, said Alex Halper, director of government affairs for the PA Chamber.

“To successfully move the state forward, employers need lawmakers to serve as partners with the private sector, advancing a pro-growth, forward-thinking agenda that will help employers and their valued workforce, while also encouraging investment and attracting new and emerging industries to the Commonwealth,” Halper said.

Gov. Wolf’s workforce plan could be dead on arrival

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed “Back to Work PA” plan would invest $3 billion to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce through a severance tax on the natural gas industry that legislators on both sides of the aisle call a non-starter.

Wolf outlined his post-COVID-19 workforce and economic development plan on Monday.

The plan, which his administration says would build a stronger and more diverse workforce and support workers hit hardest by the pandemic, was first announced as part of the Governor’s 2021 legislative plan.

“Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive, forward-thinking plan to jumpstart our economy and support our workforce,” Wolf said. “Back to Work PA will make strategic and comprehensive investments to build a stronger and more diverse workforce, support Pennsylvania businesses while attracting businesses to the commonwealth, and assist communities with economic recovery efforts – all of which will help us get back on track and build a brighter future for Pennsylvania.”

Investments through the plan would go to three pillars which include: strengthening the state’s workforce through digital literacy and apprenticeship programs, updates to the state’s workforce development services; a reshoring initiative to tackle supply chain issues across the state; and getting broadband internet access to all Pennsylvanians.

Back to Work PA’s $3 billion price tag would be provided through a $3 billion, 20-year bond issue to be paid off through approximately $300 million of annual tax revenue from Wolf’s proposed severance tax.

The severance tax would intertwine with the state’s impact fee, meaning that drillers would be taxed for each operating well and for the amount of gas they produce.

Wolf said the tax is an example of the commonwealth taking its destiny into its own hands and using the resources available to it to recover from the pandemic.

He added that the tax would primarily impact companies outside of Pennsylvania seeing as though 75% of the state’s gas is exported.

“We would keep the impact fee and the combination would be, we estimate as a percentage of the market price, about 2.8% which is well below many other states and in line with every other state,” Wolf said on Monday. “The 2.8% would allow us to bring in over and above the impact fee, about $300 million a year.”

This is not the first time that Wolf has recommended a severance tax on Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry and the proposal could face an uphill battle seeing as though both Republicans and Democrats have shown disinterest in such a tax.

Shortly after Wolf first announced the plan earlier this year, State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington and chairwoman of the Pennsylvania House democrats’ Southwestern Delegation, said that the tax was not just a tax on the oil and gas industry, but a tax on Pennsylvania’s pandemic recovery.

“Targeting a single industry with another layer of taxes – our oil and gas industry that employs tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians – is a nonstarter,” Snyder said. “This industry was deemed an essential industry by Governor Wolf last year, has produced the materials to manufacture the PPE that allowed us to respond to the pandemic, and is now producing the byproducts that are fueling the manufacturing, storage, and distribution of the vaccine to Pennsylvanians.”

Rep. Sue Helm, R-Dauphin/Lebanon, echoed Snyder’s statement this month, noting that the tax would single out these companies.

“The last thing we should be doing is singling out an industry that is so critical to our pandemic response, especially when Pennsylvania currently ranks 44th out of 50 in vaccine distribution,” said Helm.

If the plan is stalled in either the House or the Senate because of the tax, Wolf said he doesn’t see an alternative way to provide the long term workforce assistance.

Wolf Administration outlines hospitality relief funding

Businesses in the hospitality industry can begin applying for grant funding next month after $145 million in federal dollars are being distributed to every county across the state.

Starting March 15, businesses can begin applying for grants through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program.

The $145 million is part of Senate Bill 109, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law on Feb. 5. Grants will be awarded in $5,000 increments with a $50,000 maximum.

“The commonwealth’s hospitality industry is critical to the lives and livelihoods of so many Pennsylvanians, and it’s undeniable that it has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wolf said in a press release on Wednesday. “After months of calling for support for our hospitality establishments and their employees, I am pleased that the General Assembly has allocated millions of dollars in resources to protect and preserve this industry.”

The funds are currently being distributed to Certified Economic Development Organizations and Community Development Financial Institutions in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and are expected to be allocated by Feb. 28.

A hospitality business is eligible for the funding if they have less than 300 full-time equivalent employees, have a maximum tangible net worth less than $15 million, was in operation on Feb. 15 and remains in operation and the COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse economic impact.

Applicants can be prioritized for the grant if they have not received a loan or grant issued through the state or were closed by Wolf’s disaster declaration.

Businesses that can demonstrate a reduction in gross receipts of 50% or more from March 31 to Dec. 31, 2020 in comparison to the same time period in 2019 or were not open for the entirety of 2019 but can show a reduction in gross receipts for March 31 to Dec. 31 in comparison to Jan. 1 to April 1, can also be prioritized.

Gov. Wolf signs $912 million COVID-19 relief bill

The Senate’s COVID-19 relief bill providing funds for rental assistance and the struggling hospitality industry was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday afternoon.

The $912 million package is made up mostly of funds given to the state through Congress’ COVID Relief Bill passed in December and provides funds to restaurants, schools, employers, tenants and landlords.

The Senate approved the bill late last month, and a modified version of that bill was approved by the House today. The amended measure was quickly passed this afternoon by the Senate.

The new law allocates allocates $145 million to the state’s hospitality industry, which Wolf made available in December through a transfer from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund at the state Insurance Department to the General Fund.

“Business owners and employees have worked hard to protect their customers and their communities during this pandemic,” Gov Wolf said in a statement on Friday. “But the pandemic has been hard on businesses, and they need and deserve our support.

“That’s why I made this funding available back in December, and I applaud the General Assembly for sending this bill to my desk,” he said. “We need to get this money into the hands of the Pennsylvania business owners who need it as fast as possible.”

The bill also allocates $569.8 million for rental and utility assistance and $197 million for education programs.

Funding for the Rental and Utility Assistance program would be provided by federal Coronavirus stimulus money and would be divided up to counties by population size.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s tax cut will hurt small business, make state less competitive, business leaders say

In his annual budget address on Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf outlined a $40.2 billion spending plan he says will reduce taxes for working class families and invest nearly $2 billion in new resources in the public education system.

But, his plan to raise the personal income tax on households earning above $84,000 for a family of four, was quickly denounced by business leaders who say it will crush already suffering small business owners.

Under the governor’s plan, 33% of Pennsylvanians would see their income tax increase 46%, from 3.07% to 4.49%. For example, a married couple with two children would pay no PIT if they make less than $50,000. The same family making $84,000 receive a tax cut.

But a four-person family with household income of $100,000 would pay an additional $1,400 a year.

Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) said that the tax increases are an additional punch to the gut for small businesses attempting to recover after the pandemic.

“The governor’s proposed personal income tax increase of nearly 50% would take direct aim at the paychecks of Pennsylvanians who have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” he said. “I also find it alarming that the governor’s plan would harm the businesses that are already struggling to recover from the closures since most small businesses themselves pay the personal income tax.”

Wolf said that, while Pennsylvania’s personal income tax rates are relatively low and a good deal for residents who are financially secure, lower income residents pay the same rates.

A chart provided by the Pa. House Democratic Appropriations Committee details Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed personal income tax increases.

The tax increase would add nearly $3 billion to the general fund budget, which would help pay for increases to basic and special education funding, the state’s subsidized child care program and more.

“When you go to file your taxes every year, you have to pay the same exact rates as I do,” Wolf said. “I want to help working families get ahead by reducing their taxes. If you’re married with two kids, and you earn less than $84,000 a year, I suggest we give you a tax cut.”

The Wolf Administration argues that the tax cut will help more than 400,000 business owners, saving over $240 million. In a statement to the Central Penn Business Journal, Lyndsay Kensinger, Wolf’s press secretary, said that the average tax decrease would be $600.

Wolf’s proposed personal income tax hike is not the only policy that the business community is wary of. Legislative priorities listed in the proposal include raising the state’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour, adding a new tax on the natural gas industry and a requirement that related groups of businesses combine their income for tax purposes.

“Many of the policies recently outlined by the governor as among his top legislative priorities for the year… will only increase the cost of doing business in the state and make the Commonwealth less competitive overall,” said Gene Barr, CEO and president of the Harrisburg-based PA Chamber of Business and Industry.

While many businesses may see a decrease in taxes through Wolf’s plan, businesses that are small enough to receive the cut would also be the most likely to see adverse effects from an increase to the minimum wage.

Wolf’s budget plan also calls for a 25% decrease in Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income Tax, an increase of funding to the state’s workforce development system to help workers impacted by the pandemic find work, and the legalization of recreational cannabis.

While he is glad to see the Wolf Administration acknowledge the state’s high corporate net income tax of 9.99%, Barr said that the state would need to enact further decreases to stay competitive with other states.

Governor Tom Wolf nominates Alison Beam for Secretary of Health

Gov. Tom Wolf nominated Alison Beam, his current deputy chief of staff, to take over the role of Secretary of Health. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Gov. Tom Wolf nominated his deputy chief of staff, Alison Beam, to replace Dr. Rachel Levine as state Health Secretary after President Joe Biden chose Levine to be the assistant secretary of health for the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Beam, the Wolf Administration’s deputy chief of staff since 2019, is set to assume Levine’s former role on Saturday. In an announcement  Friday, Wolf called Beam a talented public servant who brings years of experience in health care policy and implementation to the office.

“Alison knows that a strong, widely available, and successful vaccination strategy is the path out of the pains of this pandemic,” he said. “Her foremost and immediate focus will be on the strategic distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, making sure Pennsylvania receives as many doses as possible from the federal government, and that the Pennsylvania Department of Health coordinates with hospitals, health centers, county and local governments, and pharmacy partners to make this vaccine as widely available as possible to Pennsylvanians everywhere.”

As Deputy Chief of Staff, Beam coordinated initiatives and resources across state departments, helped coordinate the administration’s COVID-19 pandemic response and assisted in the creation of Pennie, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

Beam previously served as chief of staff to the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner from 2017 to 2019.

Wendy Braund was named interim acting physician general by Gov. Tom Wolf. PHOTO PROVIDED.

While Beam is replacing Levine as secretary of health, she will not be taking on Levine’s other role as physician general.

Dr. Wendy Braund, COVID-19 response director for the state Department of Health, will replace Levine as interim acting physician general, also on Saturday.

Braund was previously director of the center for public health practice, associate dean for practice and a professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Braund has been an integral part of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, according to Wolf, who said that her experience will be an asset in her new role.

“Wendy brings years of public health expertise and a commitment to improving public health practice in Pennsylvania to the role of interim acting physician general,” he said.

Restaurants, theaters, gyms can resume indoor services on Jan. 4, Gov. Wolf says

Gov. Tom Wolf’s limited-time mitigation efforts prohibiting all indoor dining at restaurants is still set to expire at 8 a.m. on Jan. 4, Wolf announced in a press conference on Wednesday.

Gyms, movie theaters, fitness centers and restaurants can resume indoor operations after the governor’s three-week mitigation order that began on Dec. 12 as it was initially outlined when first announced on Dec. 10.

“This does not mean that we are out of the woods not by any means,” said Wolf, adding that the state will resume the same efforts that it enforced earlier this month. “We still have significant mitigation efforts in place.”

Mitigation efforts still in place after the indoor mitigation order is over next month include mask-wearing requirements, limitations based on venue size, business capacity limits and restaurant self-certification.

The State Department of Health announced on Wednesday that the statewide total of positive COVID-19 cases has grown to 631,333 people with a total of 15,672 deaths since last March.

“If we get complacent and let case numbers continue to go back up, the danger to our families, health care system will continue with vast consequences,” Wolf said.

Despite the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past month, Melissa Bova, vice president of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodge Association, said that the data does not show that restaurants are the problem.

“The data that was out there showed that the spread of the virus was happening with people congregating in their homes,” she said. “It was a personal attack when the announcement was made when our industry had to be shut down for indoor dining when we were not the cause of the issue.”

Wolf’s mandate fell at the busiest time of the year for many Pennsylvania businesses when people are out with their families and have more cash to spend at restaurants. While January is part of the slowest season for restaurants, Bova said that businesses will make more money at 50% capacity than not at all.

Bova said that the association was glad to see Wolf confirm that restaurants would be reopening in early January. Since the Governor announced the order earlier this month, she said that businesses have called the association daily asking if the order would be extended.

While she said that it’s a positive that restaurants will be able to return to 50% capacity in January, Bova said that there are a number of mandates, such as meal requirements, bar seat bans and curfews, that will need to be lifted before restaurants can begin to fully recover.