BETHEL PARK, Pa. (KDKA) – As we head into one of the busiest weeks for the restaurant industry, most are closed to indoor dinging and employees are out on unemployment. On Monday, dozens of restaurant owners, bartenders and servers gathered in Bethel Park to rally together in reopening.
“It’s an obligation. I have an obligation to my employees. They have bills to pay, rent, everything else. They have families to support,” said Gary Sloan.
#TONIGHT Another rally for restaurants wanting to open happened today. Some are already defying the governors order while others are just showing support. What they want to happen for the hospitality industry’s survival on @KDKA pic.twitter.com/xEH6syjThF
— Nicole Ford (@NicoleFordTV) December 21, 2020
Sloan owns Our Station House. He traveled from Cambria County to show his support for the Pittsburgh restaurants that are open.
“I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the majority of places are playing by the rules because nobody wants to get sick,” Sloan said.
The big issue from this group is that they do not have a choice in the state shutdown orders. While some have already received warnings from the Allegheny County Health Department, they continue to stay open for indoor dining. It’s a choice supported by some members of the public.
“I feel like everything going on right now is wrong and I feel like we need to stand up and do the right thing when the wrong thing is going on. Not to say COVID isn’t hurting people, but viruses and bacteria are like dust, you can’t escape dust and you can’t escape this so you stay home if you feel you need to stay home and you go out if you feel you need to go out, but choice needs to be there,” Crystal McWiggen said.
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In Greene County, the District Attorney is giving those restaurant owners a choice by publicly announcing he will not enforce the shutdown orders.
KDKA spoke with some business owners in Waynesburg who are open and thankful, but said there are other agencies like the Liquor Control Board that could fine them so they are keeping it small.
KDKA did reach out to the Allegheny County Health Department about the businesses who were ordered to close yet are still open. A spokesperson said the department doesn’t have the authority to padlock doors, but the next step could include getting the courts involved.