Businesses Hope Loosened Restrictions Can Make Up For Losses

This Easter Sunday marks a milestone in Pennsylvania's road to recovery from COVID-19. KDKA's Bryant Reed has more.

Video Transcript

- This Easter Sunday marks a big milestone in Pennsylvania's road to recovery from COVID-19. That's the day when the state's indoor gathering limits for restaurants and businesses increases to 75% capacity. Our Bryant Reed talked to businesses about how the loosened restrictions could help make up for the losses of the past year. Bryant?

BRYANT REED: Yeah, Kim, it's all about baby steps, right? 25%, 50%, now 75% indoor capacity will be allowed for these restaurants and businesses. And although COVID case numbers are up over the past couple of weeks, overall the numbers are down. Now, with that being said, I talked to a doctor who says if we're not careful, a major COVID surge could be imminent.

JENNIFER PRIESS: I'm not sure that loosening restrictions needs to be rethought. But we have to do it very thoughtfully and carefully.

BRYANT REED: On Sunday, Pennsylvania gets one step closer to life as we knew it. Restaurants and businesses will be able to open up indoor seating capacity to 75%. Alcoholic drinks no longer have to be bought with a meal on the side, and full bar service can also resume.

BUD GREEN: Most importantly, it's getting the team members back to work. You know, we had a huge beverage department. Only a few of them will be back. You know, the bartenders and some beverage servers. But being able to bring back all our beverage team, we're excited about it.

BRYANT REED: But Green is the Assistant GM at Rivers Casino, who's dealt with the COVID impact on multiple levels. Their event center has barely been booked. And while the gaming floor still busy, it's not nearly what it once was. And a new restaurant that opened in January has just been waiting for more customers.

BUD GREEN: But now, the guests will be able to go to any of the bars on property, not have to buy food, and be able to actually sit at a bar. I know, what a concept-- sit at a bar and have a drink.

BRYANT REED: Of course, six feet social distancing will still be in place. Some areas will still have restricted access. And masks still must be worn. Dr. Priess says those rules must continue to apply at every business if we don't want to see a surge in cases.

JENNIFER PRIESS: If we are too quick in opening things up and giving patients and people false hope that everything is going to be exactly the way it was prior to COVID, I think that's wrong, because I think we're going to see a spike.

BRYANT REED: And if a spike happens, she fears we could be right back to where we started.

JENNIFER PRIESS: Is it better to open up and then draw back or is it better to be a little bit more thoughtful about how we open up things?

BRYANT REED: Now, it is important to remember that even as more people are getting vaccinated, you aren't considered fully vaccinated until two weeks afterwards. Meanwhile, Green says they'll look at how business goes once they open up at 75% capacity, and then they'll make the proper adjustments to ensure the public health. Live at the casino, I'm Bryant Reed, KDKA News.