Pennsylvanians tackling new Covid-19 restrictions and development of vaccine


Dan Gigler

People eating in a restaurant as the green phase initially started in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Chefs everywhere throughout Pennsylvania are in danger! In another non-permanent attempt to control the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in Pennsylvania, our state governor, Tom Wolf, passed a law on December 12th that intended to shut down more businesses.

These businesses include indoor dining (such as restaurants), all casinos, gyms and other recreational venues. The law was also intended to suspend school sports and extracurricular activities, lower retail occupancy limits, and sharply decrease the amount of people allowed to gather in one place.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “‘We all hoped it would not come to this, but the current surge in Pennsylvania will not allow us to wait,’ Wolf said. ‘For the next three weeks … I’m asking that we work together to turn the tide of this surge so that our communities can safely bridge the gap between where we stand today and when a vaccine is widely available.’”

Although only time will tell if these restrictions will actually bring the number of daily cases in Pennsylvania down, but we know for sure that the businesses affected by them are not happy with these restrictions by any means. Hundreds of businesses in Pennsylvania are hanging on the edge of financial disaster, and thousands of employees’ livelihoods are at stake.

In a poll conducted via google form amongst a group of students at Boyertown Area Senior High School, one student said, “I do know a couple people who work in these places. They will be greatly affected due to the governor’s decision because of the lack of income. Forcing them to close doors could be a dire situation for them.”

Another student said, “I have one friend who works at a movie theater. They were let off until the stricter Covid measures lifted. They’ll get $50 for their Christmas bonus, but that’s it until they go back.”

As we’ve already established, these obviously harsh restrictions are only temporary, which is a good thing. However, if everything goes smoothly, they’re supposed to be over sooner than you’d think, as the restrictions are only supposed to be in effect until January 4th, 2021. Of course, this does not by any means imply that the restrictions will be lifted on this exact day.

In the google form poll, when answering a question asking for predictions on when these restrictions will actually be lifted, one student said that “I expect them to be lifted around that same time frame. Probably not on the exact date but around there. I believe this because the restaurants and other places will not allow this restriction to go on for months and months because that place may be their only source of income, which is something that is life sustaining for them.”

Another student said, “I feel like people aren’t going to listen to the regulations put in place from the governor which will make the cases worse potentially making the restrictions worse,” implying that the restrictions could be in place for a very long time.

Despite our state governor passing these new restrictions, dozens of restaurants and gyms in Pennsylvania still remain open to indoor services, therefore defying the governor’s COVID-19 containment measures.

Some restaurants defy these restrictions openly, while others do so covertly, and there are a variety of different reasons for their doing so. Despite risking potential fines and license revocation, the owners of these businesses may seem to be afraid of other problems that most businesses faced in the early days of the pandemic.

When answering a question in the google form concerning this possibility, one student said, “I do think they are fearing greater things. They are fearing the closure of their business altogether. Bankruptcy is a definite possibility if they are closed down for too long.” Regardless, it’s clear that these businesses are fearing things other than the virus.

So we know that not all businesses that are supposedly affected by Tom Wolf’s new laws will close, but the real question is, for the restaurants that are staying open, do they have to still allow indoor dining to stay in business, or do they have other options?

One student from the google form poll said that if restaurants have no interest in closing down, or violating the new state law concerning COVID-19, they should do “take-out, curbside pickup, or delivery. Almost all are covid friendly and delivery is nice for people who can’t leave their house.”

Fortunately, some restaurants have always had take-out /or delivery, and some have even begun doing curbside pickup since a few months ago, which means that theoretically, those restaurants don’t have to break the new state law to stay in business. Plus, some restaurants even have outdoor tables.

Sadly, most restaurants only do indoor dining, which means that ultimately, they’ll have to choose between breaking the law to continue making income, or risking bankruptcy by closing down. At their absolute worst, the consequences both of these choices come with are not good for the restaurants in question, or the employees who work at said restaurants.

With the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines for COVID-19 FDA-approved and available to medical professionals for use on patients, and another vaccine from Moderna expected to receive approval, we can all breathe knowing that the number of cases in the US will start dwindling down again soon.

However, it’s going to take a while until everyone in the nation is vaccinated. Restaurants and gyms, along with other businesses that have closed down as per Tom Wolf’s orders may reopen soon, but until every US citizen is vaccinated, they won’t reopen completely.

In the google form poll, one student said that in regards to when everything will most likely go back to normal, “I do not think things will ever fully go back to normal. There are just too many different kinds of people in this world that will never let things go back. Therefore I hope to expect things back to somewhat normal by next winter 12/1/2021.”