HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. (CBS) — A new round of COVID-19 restrictions will get into effect in Pennsylvania at 12:01 a.m. Saturday as the state tries to get the exploding number of coronavirus cases under control. Some restaurants are grateful the community has been by their side throughout the pandemic to keep them open but going into another shutdown is causing despair.
The restrictions go into effect just after midnight at 12:01 a.m., thus beginning a ban on indoor dining, closing indoor gyms and pausing all kindergarten through 12th-grade sports.
Gym and restaurant owners are in the fight of their lives right now, including the owner of Piero’s Italian Restaurant.
“It’s really depressing,” restaurant owner John Neal said.
The holiday wreaths inside Piero’s in Huntingdon Valley is now like a daily reminder to Neal of what might be his 11-year-old restaurant’s last Christmas, after new COVID restrictions were announced.
“It’s disheartening,” Neal said. “When he campaigned to be governor of our state, he told us he was going to look out for small business owners because he was a small business owner. We’re not seeing that.”
The governor is ordering all indoor dining to close at midnight until at least Jan. 4. Gyms are also ordered to close.
“For the next three weeks, please, I ask Pennsylvanians to stand with me united against COVID,” Wolf said Thursday.
But some are defying the governor’s order. In Bucks County, the Newtown Athletic Club posted online that it will remain open because “we believe in the importance of fitness as essential in the fight against COVID-19.”
People have mixed reactions.
“If people are smart, they’ll do what’s right for them,” Langhorne resident Steve Manas said. “Not to infect themselves, not to infect each other.”
“Things have to change and they can’t change if people,” Newtown resident Mike Provenzano said. “We have to sacrifice a little bit.”
Piero’s owner has his own message for Gov. Tom Wolf.
“If you want us to close, then you have to give us some sort of assistance because we’re not going to make it through,” Neal said.
Neal is doing what he can to keep Piero’s alive. Cheesesteaks, pizza and other casual food were added to its fine dining menu and he is hoping takeout will get him through.
Neal worries, however, unless state or federal aid comes through, the restaurant, and many others, could close for good within the next two months.
“It’s truly upsetting what the governor is doing to small businesses,” Megan Lamplugh said.
For the next three weeks, patrons will not be allowed inside restaurants or gyms. Before COVID, Prescatore BYOB seated about 200 guests on a Friday or Saturday night.
“Tonight is a really busy night for us,” Julianna Lashley said. “Busy is what I like to say, but we’re looking at about 50 people for dine-in.”
While owners hope to still be here in the new year, they’re treating Friday night’s guests to a special treat.
“As our last night open, free cannolis with the purchase of dinner because we just wanted to thank our community for helping us,” Lashley said.
Over in Delaware County, the owner of Santino’s Tap and Table is frustrated.
“It’s wrong. What they’re doing is wrong,” C.J. DeMarco said.
The restaurant opened last November, only months before the pandemic hit.
“It is hard to try to feed your family with a supplemental income doing this now,” Lamplugh said.
DeMarco says he’s concerned for his employees, having to shut down during their busiest time.
“They’ve struggled through this whole thing enough and to do this right before the holidays is wrong,” DeMarco said.
These restaurants are hesitant about investing in additional heat lamps or tents as they enter the winter months. They’re hoping take-out will help keep them afloat.
CBS3’s Matt Petrillo and Alecia Reid contributed to this report.
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