Restaurants reopen during the pandemic

Bars, gyms, and casinos allowed up at 50% capacity

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Photo via aces.edu

“Come in, we’re open” sign stating how restaurants have reopened indoor dining.

Madison Hentze, Staff Writer

Yes, the restaurants have reopened.

The hospitality industry has had to brainstorm how to make indoor dining a safe, distant experience for the community, so they can remain open.  This journey has been difficult for most restaurants.

Since December 12, 2020, indoor dining in all Pennsylvania restaurants had been shut down for the second time this year. PA Governor Tom Wolf made the announcement, giving the hospitality industry a few days to get their businesses prepared for yet another lockdown. For the rest of December, restaurants went either doing curbside, pickup, or delivery.  

Bars, gyms, and casinos also reopened with their own set of safety guidelines.

Mr. Jacob Lesistsky, an Assistant Food & Beverage Manager, discussed some of the struggles employees are experiencing regarding finances and benefits.  He also addressed the government’s role in helping, or not helping, this industry

 “At this point, allowing indoor dining in any capacity is equivalent to putting a Band-Aid on a mortal wound,” said Lesitsky. “Covid-19 is still a major public threat. Expecting workers paid sub-minimum wage to enforce any restrictions when it could literally affect their livelihood (tips) is woefully optimistic at best, and a shameful ‘passing of the puck’ at worst.”

Even though indoor dining has been reopened by the state of Pennsylvania at 50% capacity, Lesitsky believes the US Government hasn’t helped the restaurant business in nearly enough.

 “Many private entities have tried to step up, but there’s simply not enough money to go around,” said Lesitsky. “Organizations such as Another Round Another Rally and The United States Bartender’s Guide have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through donations with no expectation of repayment to help restaurant employees out of work. Meanwhile, airlines received a stimulus of $15 billion to keep 35,000 employees at work.”

Luckily, it isn’t all bad. Multiple students, as well as young adults, have returned to work at their part-time jobs making the most of what they can during the pandemic.

“I’m just happy to be working again,” said Stephanie Fenstermaker, a college student who works as a hostess in the restaurant industry. “It’s good to see all my co-workers again and guests coming in which brings somewhat normalcy.”

What Mr. Lesitsky wants the new administration to see that restaurants need help.

“Without government aid, everyone’s favorite local bars and restaurants can’t last much longer, Lesitsky said. “We’ve made careers of making people feel happy and welcome, and we don’t want to stop.”