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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Businesses Hopeful To Survive Gov. Tom Wolf's New Virus Restrictions

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Local businesses are preparing for new coronavirus restrictions announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Thursday.

The restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and expire at 8 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2021.

Restaurants are forced to close all indoor dining but can continue outdoor dining and takeout service. The dinner rush was busy at restaurants on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon on Thursday, many people fitting in one last dine-in meal for the year.

At Bistro 19, executive chef Jessica Bauer says navigating the pandemic as a restaurant has been about survival.

"We're not here to make money," she said. "We're here to be here in a couple of years."

Starting Saturday, Bistro 19 will be offering takeout only during what is normally a busy holiday rush.

"Our December is going to look a lot different than it did last year and it's really disappointing," Bauer said.

According to Bauer, the restrictions mean she'll have a surplus of food she intended to serve to dine-in customers this weekend and a limited menu. But she says she's rolling with the punches in a year that's been beyond difficult for bars and restaurants.

"I believe every person is going through a terrible year as well," she said. "So we're just trying to do our best to follow along."

In a statement Thursday, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association asked Governor Tom Wolf to call a special session of the state General Assembly to discuss relief for the bar and restaurant industry.


Wolf said Thursday that he has been working to get financial support for small businesses.

"We need to make sure that these business owners and their employees have the help that they deserve and they need to weather this pandemic. And we need federal leaders to step up and provide the support these businesses need," Wolf said.

The state's restrictions also suspend indoor operations at gyms.

"Not super surprised," said Tom Duer, the owner of Pittsburgh Fitness Project in Upper Lawrenceville. "A little bit frustrated, but I think we anticipated this."

Duer is staying optimistic and plans to renovate his gym during the closure. He says there's a silver lining that restrictions are scheduled to expire in early January, when gyms typically see a spike in membership.

"It is very, very frustrating, but it's also an opportunity for us to just get better at what we're doing," he said.

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