A request by a group of Pennsylvania restaurants, including six in Berks County, to overturn Gov. Tom Wolf's temporary ban on indoor dining has been rejected by the Commonwealth Court.
The restaurants filed a petition on Dec. 18 seeking a preliminary injunction against temporary COVID-19 restrictions that went into effect on Dec. 12.
The Berks restaurants including in the petition were:
- Deluxe Restaurant, 2295 Lancaster Pike, Cumru Township.
- The Westy Bar & Grill, 279 W. State St., Tilden Township.
- The Works, 1109 Bern Road, Wyomissing.
- BlackJax American Pub and Grill, 668 Ben Franklin Highway East, Amity Township.
- Barrel and Ale, 961 N. Reading Avenue, Colebrookdale Township.
- Iezzi's on 3rd, 61 S. Reading Avenue, Boyertown.
The restaurants argued in their petition that the governor's order "is not predicated on any findings, research, or data that Pennsylvania restaurants and/or bars have contributed more significantly to the higher rates of transmission than other Pennsylvania businesses" and that, overall, restaurants and bars have lower rates of transmission of COVID-19 than other businesses.
The restaurants also claimed that the governor's mandate was discriminatory.
Commonwealth Court Judge J. Andrew Crompton on Wednesday issued a decision upholding the governor's order.
In his decision he wrote that the restaurants did meet several criteria for granting a preliminary injunction, but not that the mandate was discriminatory. And, in part because the order is temporary, he declined to issue an injunction.
Crompton wrote that if the indoor dining ban was to be extended the restaurants could file an emergency application for special relief with the Commonwealth Court.
The governor's order is set to expire at 8 a.m. Monday. Wolf announced Wednesday that the temporary restrictions will not be extended.
Along with the ban on indoor dining, the order also includes:
- A suspension of all school extracurricular activities, including sports. Collegiate and professional sports are exempt.
- Limiting indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people. Religious services are exempt.
- Limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 50 people.
- A shutdown of entertainment venues including concert venues, theaters, movie theaters, casinos, bowling alleys and private clubs.
- A shutdown of gyms and fitness centers.
- All businesses that serve the public, such as retail stores, are capped at 50% capacity.
When Wolf issued the order on Dec. 10 he said it was in response to growing COVID-19 case numbers across the state and an attempt to prevent a further spike over the holiday season.
Wolf on Wednesday said that he believes the mitigation efforts have worked.