The hospitality, restaurant, and bar industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. From outright closures to severe restrictions on service, to constantly changing health and safety regulations, owners and operators have had to drastically alter the way they do business. As a result, the financial losses suffered by this industry are staggering. Leech Tishman’s attorneys are hard at work assisting clients across this industry to address those losses, get back to business, and protect the health and safety of their customer and employees.
Current Efforts to Address Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Health Department Orders
Leech Tishman and the Caputo Law Office are currently representing a large group of establishments, including restaurants, bars, and other liquor licensees, that are concerned about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s and/or Allegheny County’s recent Orders addressing occupancy limitations, on-site alcohol consumption, and other operational restrictions. If you have questions about those efforts or those Orders, or are interested in joining the restaurant and bar consortium, please click here.
Leech Tishman and the Caputo Law Office were featured in several Pittsburgh Business Times articles regarding this effort:
Additionally, currently, there are efforts in the state legislature to provide some financial relief for this industry..
FEDERAL COURT DECISION RULES GOV. WOLF ORDERS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Federal Court Rules Gov. Wolf’s Efforts Unconstitutional. Read the September 14, 2020 decision by U.S. District Court Judge William S. Stickman IV here.
On September 22, 2020, the Court denied a request that it stay its ruling pending an appeal. Read the Court’s Memorandum Order here.
Gov. Wolf has indicated that he plans to appeal the Court’s September 14 ruling.
Read more about the decision from the following sources:
UPDATE: Pa. Gov. Announces Increased Occupancy Limits
|On September 8, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent starting September 21, 2020 so long as they commit to strictly complying with all applicable public-health safety orders and guidance through a self-certification process. Read the order here.
UPDATE: Alcohol may now be served to 11:00 p.m.
UPDATE: With the launch of a new website, the self-certification process is officially underway. Learn more about “Open and Certified Pennsylvania,” find the “Open & Certified PA Business Directory,” and certify your restaurant here.
Prior to the Governor’s recent announcement, Frank Dermody, Pennsylvania House of Representatives Democratic Leader, had written Gov. Wolf, asking for the additional hour to serve alcohol. In his September 16, 2020 letter, Rep. Dermody explained: “I believe it would be prudent to allow restaurant alcohol sales to extend until at least 1l p.m. in order to give diners more time to enjoy late meals. More time to serve customers would reduce the need to seat more people earlier in the evening, meaning less crowding. It also would offer increased work hours for employees who have been hit hard by reduced wages and tips. They are eager to work more and modifying this part of the guidance would allow that to happen.” Read the entire letter here.
On September 8, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent starting September 21, 2020 so long as they commit to strictly complying with all applicable public-health safety orders and guidance through a self-certification process. Read the order here.
Leech Tishman Client Alert:
More information on this important development will be provided as they become available.
NEW YORK TO ALLOW RESTAURANTS TO ADD COVID-19 SURCHARGE
|On September 16, 2020, the New York City Council passed a bill allowing restaurants to add a temporary charge of up to 10 percent to help cover coronavirus-related costs.
Read more about this legislation here:
ALERT: Enforcement Actions Under Way
State and local agencies in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County specifically have taken steps to enforce the various orders, for example;
Enforcement efforts are also underway elsewhere in the country, for example:
Government Orders Affecting the Hospitality Industry Nationwide
This issue is not unique to Allegheny County or even Pennsylvania. Across the country, local and state governments are issuing orders, regulations, directives, and other guidance that alter or restrict the operations of restaurants and bars in an attempt to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional direction addressing re-opening of these and other establishments is also being provided. Review certain state’s orders here.
Gov. Newsom issued similar orders in California, prohibiting indoor dining and closing bars across the state. Florida Gov. DeSantis issued an Executive Order closing bars and nightclubs throughout Florida.
Many of these orders, like the one in Allegheny County, have been subject to push-back or legal challenges. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order to close bars, which inadvertently closed 1,500 Texas restaurants. In response, a coalition of more than 30 Texas bars have filed a lawsuit challenging the emergency order.
Similar legal challenges are happening in Tennessee, with Nashville bars filing lawsuits following Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order limiting all state bars and restaurants to takeout, drive-thru and delivery services only. Legal challenges are also happening in Nevada, with many bars attempting to block Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Executive Orders. In New York, the restrictions also have been met with a legal challenge.
Leech Tishman attorneys represent clients across the country with over 80 attorneys nationwide. Our lawyers are licensed in Arizona, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia, as well as in various federal appellate and trial courts across the country.
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