Op-Ed: It’s Time for Pennsylvania to Lift Mask Mandate and Restaurant Capacity Limits

Once again, Pennsylvania lags behind other states, as we see more and more mask mandates lifted and indoor dining capacities increased. It is time for us to follow suit and begin to reopen our economy.

It has been a year since the COVID pandemic brought things to a halt across the nation and the world.  We have learned a lot throughout that year, but we have also seen a great deal of hardships imposed that have negatively impacted small businesses and in turn, individuals, families, and our overall economy.

To quote Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, “We know what we need to do, and it doesn’t require a government mandate to do it.”  With that in mind, I am not attempting to discredit CDC studies or anyone who chooses to wear a mask. If someone does not feel comfortable being in public without a mask, they are free to wear one but should not take it upon themselves to berate those who choose not to.

Throughout the pandemic, 11 states never imposed a mask mandate, and now Texas and Mississippi have announced an end to their mask mandates, joining states like Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota.  And while Connecticut’s Governor is choosing to keep a mask mandate, he has at least recognized the ability to return businesses, including restaurants, to full capacity.  Further, New York restaurants outside of New York City are returning to 75%.

Where does Pennsylvania stand on these two issues? We still have a mask mandate, and our restaurants are still limited to 50% capacity.  And with St. Patrick’s Day upon us, I suspect Governor Wolf will pull another fast one on our bars and restaurants mandating an early closing time, as he did for the night before Thanksgiving.

As Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, I continue to hear from restaurants and taverns that we need to do more to get these businesses back to full operation.  Small businesses are the backbone of their communities, and orders being handed down are arbitrarily punishing them – over and over again.

With warmer weather approaching, and as more and more people are vaccinated, residents are anxious to get back outside and return to normal.  It is time to allow people the freedom to choose to wear a mask or not – and for restaurants to stop having to be the mask police and instead, fill their seats to capacity.


CONTACT: Bruce McLanahan, 717-787-8524

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