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Some tavern owners make their own pandemic rules, urging the governor to adapt the state

Some bars in the region are back and running as a protest against the government’s Tom Wolf’s order imposing restrictions on eateries to limit the spread of covid-19.

But if you want to sit at the bar and have a drink at Al’s Café in Bethel Park, or Piacquadio’s restaurant and lounge in Castle Shannon, you have to sign on for some sort of exception first.

By signing this form, I accept that Al’s Café is not responsible for any future illness that I can tolerate. I agree that by signing this I have made the choice and want to sit in the bar and accept all responsibility for my own actions, ”reads the half-page form in the bar and restaurant in Bethel Park.


Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review

Rod Ambrogi, from Al’s Cafe, created a shape that he has all his bartender signs before they can have a drink at the bar.

The form was a measure taken by board members at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Restaurant and Tavern Association on Friday – the deadline given to Gov. Tom Wolf to respond to the newly formed association’s requests to make business in the food industry a little easier during the ongoing pandemic.

The innkeepers also allow as many people to eat inside as they can allow while placed 6 feet apart.

On July 15, Gov. Tom Wolf an order that allows outdoor dining but limits Pennsylvania eateries to 25% of indoor capacity – no matter how large or small the facility is. The order also ends with the direct bar service.

At Al’s Café, there were about 15 people sitting in the bar at 3 pm on Friday. It was playfulness, laughter and the sound of sports talk shows.

A bartender, disguised, took orders from people sitting 6 meters apart. Many did not have food with their drinks.

Before patrons could be served a cold, they were asked to sign a form, which also required them to print their name, date, time and temperature. The bar was equipped with an infrared thermometer.

“This way, it’s their choice,” Ambrogi said, gesturing to his patrons sitting at the bar.

He said he sent templates with the form to the other association’s board members Friday morning. It was not immediately clear which association board members would follow in opening their bars and following the 25% capacity rule.

The request for the association to reveal which facilities will participate in the protest has been rejected. Its website does not list them; instead, it says it has 200 members and encourages people to sign a petition seeking to have collected about 9,200 signatures.

Gary Scoulos, the association’s lawyer, was not immediately available to comment on the legal importance of the form.

Yet the association’s Facebook page published Friday morning was their “peaceful protest to stand up for your rights, your businesses, your employees and the right to live honestly!”

Tony Konopka, from Peters Township, said he was there to support Ambrogi, whom he called his “best friend”, in his decision to stand up to the governor.

“We are here in solidarity,” he said. “The fact that the governor has not responded is absurd. … I mean it’s just a horse (expletiv). We feel terrible for these people; Many of these guys have not been paid for weeks or months. “

The association has made three inquiries:

• Let yourself have as much indoor capacity as the distance between tables of six meters from each other provides.

Use bar services with a 6-foot distance rule and obstacles.

• Remove the rule that food is ordered before alcohol is served.

Wolf has not directly responded to the association or has agreed to meet with them.

The Allegheny County Health Department has repeatedly urged restaurants and businesses to follow the governor’s orders.

“We really need you to come on board. The virus is not a hoax. It’s not a rumor, ”Allegheny County Health Department Director Debra Bogen said on Wednesday during a weekly coronavirus update.

Risks alcohol license

For bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, defying Wolf’s orders could mean losing your licenses or being prosecuted for offenses, a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokesman said.

John Piacquadio will also have customers who want to sit in his bar sign the form. When the bar is socially distanced, the bar places eight.

“I will fight for these people’s jobs. That’s it, ”he said, referring to his staff of 12. Before covid-19, he hired 24.

He thinks Wolf’s orders are discriminatory against restaurants and bars. In the past month, since the governor’s latest order limiting indoor food to 25%, Piacquadio said it has lost two-thirds of its revenue.

“And if health officials are so worried about the kids going back to school, why did they open Kennywood? Why did they open Sandcastle? Come on, he said. “We are trying to set the standard here. Let’s follow the CDC guidelines just like any other business in Pennsylvania. “

Two of his customers agree with his feeling.

“These restaurant rules are stricter – more than necessary,” said Susan Wilcox, who had just finished lunch at Castle Shannon’s eatery on Friday.

Wilcox, 59, of Lawrence, Washington County, said the pandemic did not slow her and her husband’s eating habits. They regularly visit restaurants in Washington County, Southpointe and Mt. Lebanon.

“We have no problem going anywhere,” she said. “I have not seen anywhere that I have not followed the rules.”

Cathy Normandy, 59, from West Mifflin, said she supports the association’s stance. Despite this, she does not feel comfortable eating out yet. But it’s not because she’s afraid of getting sick.

“I just do not like having to wear a mask, can not hear people talking and can not see them smile. And I do not like all the rules I have to follow in restaurants, “she said.

Normandy was on its way out of Piacquadios with its favorite fish sandwich.

“It’s just easier to take pick up,” Normandy said.

Dillon Carr is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter.

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