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McKeesport – Sept. 8, 2020 – State Sen. Jim Brewster’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) effort to safely increase indoor and outdoor seating for bars and restaurants moved forward today as the Senate Law and Justice Committee approved legislation to expand capacity. 

Brewster supported a bill (House Bill 2513) to increase indoor occupancy and offered a revised plan to expand seating for outdoor dining.   Brewster’s amendment to increase capacity for bars passed unanimously. 

Earlier this year, he wrote a letter to the governor seeking state regulatory permission for bars and restaurants to safely reopen with additional seating. 

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, I have been trying to make sure that our economy can reopen safely, including increasing capacity for bars and restaurants,” Brewster said.  “The committee action today to increase capacity, in addition the announcement by the governor to ease restrictions, will help restaurants, bars and the hospitality industry.”

“Restaurants have been hit particularly hard by seating restrictions and have sought ways to safely reopen with expanded capacity. 

Just prior to the committee’s action, the governor announced that he was easing restrictions on restaurants.  The governor said that restaurants can increase their indoor occupancy to 50 percent beginning Sept. 21.

Brewster, who serves as Democratic chair of the Law and Justice Committee, has been a strong and forceful advocate for protecting workers and patrons while reopening the economy in the face of the pandemic. 

In July, along with his colleague, Sen. Pam Iovino (D-Allegheny/Washington), Brewster offered plan to use $100 million in federal pandemic recovery funds to help restaurants and bars impacted by forced closures. 

Earlier this year, the lawmaker outlined a six-point economic stimulus plan to help workers and small businesses and he detailed a safe reopening strategy for area businesses that protected workers and consumers.