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Report: Dr. Rachel Levine Declined To Attend Struggling Restaurant Owners Meeting With Pa. GOP Lawmakers Over Shutdown

HARRISBURG (KDKA) -- Restaurants continue to struggle and now they are banding together to ask for financial help from lawmakers in Harrisburg.

"It's about a $5.5 million restaurant just my mortgage with interest is $20,000 so when they shut me down like that it costs me tens of thousands of dollars for just one shutdown," said Greg Cammerata who owns Iron Rock Taphouse in Greensburg.

Cammerata is just one of several individual business owners to testify on Tuesday morning to the PA House Majority Policy Committee.

"This is not just a sector of business. This is more than that this is families. This is employees. 560,000 employees to be exact," said Roy Lucas who owns a restaurant in Montgomery County.

These business owners are banding together with state wide restaurant and tavern associations in order to get some type of economic relief. That help is already in a number of bills that have yet to move across the House or Senate floor.

"Creates a $250 million dollar grant program for restaurants. HB 2513, which allows restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity creating additional loan options interest free for the hospitality," said John Longstreet with the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Aside from economic help, the group is looking for clear instructions on what to do with a positive case. It's something Iron Rock Taphouse experienced firsthand.

"We have no problem following the guidelines. We just need those guidelines and need help getting those guidelines from the appropriate people," said Arnold Ivey who's the Executive Chef at the restaurant.

The big question from the lawmakers was for the state's health officials. Chairman Rep. Martin Causer said Dr. Rachel Levine was invited to the hearing to help find a solution moving forward, but he said she declined.

"Why not come forward and answer our questions? Why not sit in front of this house committee and talk about the governor's order and answer members' questions?" Causer said.

The business owners who testified are hopeful this hearing will push some of the House and Senate bills forward.

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