Plastics firms are rushing to meet record demand for ‘sneeze guards’ to prevent the spread of coronavirus in stores, restaurants and workplaces. But there’s a global shortage of raw materials needed to make the plastic barriers. (June 10) AP Domestic
The state Department of Agriculture issued a $1,000 fine to Taste of Sicily in Palmyra on Tuesday, three weeks after the restaurant reopened its indoor dining area against state health guidelines.
Last week, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services issued a temporary suspension of Taste of Sicily’s food license for violating statutory public health requirements, but the restaurant’s owners vowed to stay open. The fine issued Tuesday is for operating as a retail food facility without a license, according to the violation notice.
“The Retail Food Facility is, as determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health … in violation of one or more statutes relating to public health, and is ignoring the requirement that it be licensed before operating as a retail food facility,” the notice states.
The restaurant reopened its indoor dining area in late May, though they reduced their seating capacity by 50% and put up Plexiglass around the register. Michael Mangano, whose mother Silvana Drill owns the restaurant, said they closed in mid-March when Gov. Tom Wolf shut down indoor service at restaurants due to COVID-19, but felt they couldn’t wait any longer to reopen.
“We need to make a living. We are all tied to that paper called money, and we need it to pay our bills and pay our taxes and basically buy what we need,” Mangano said at the time.
On Wednesday, Mangano said they don’t intend to pay the fine and will continue serving customers.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” Mangano said. “We’re not going to stop conducting business.”
According to the violation notice, the Department of Agriculture can impose a fine of $10,000 for each violation of the Retail Food Facility Safety Act, and can hand out separate civil penalties or increase the penalty amount if violations recur.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said the adjudication process for penalties is an administrative process, not a court process.
Local officials support restaurant
Taste of Sicily has garnered support from people across the state who disagree with the business shutdown orders imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
On Friday, about 50 people came to a rally for Taste of Sicily hosted by local elected officials.
Republican State Reps. Frank Ryan and Russ Diamond, state Sens. Dave Arnold and Doug Mastriano, county commissioners Bob Phillips and Bill Ames, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser and Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf all attended.
During the rally, officials criticized Wolf and emphasized personal liberty as a reason for reopening the Commonwealth. Tuesday evening, Ryan, Diamond Arnold and Mastriano all voted for resolutions in the House and Senate to terminate the COVID-19 disaster emergency Wolf issued in March, which he later extended.
Wolf is disputing the notion that he needs the General Assembly’s approval to declare a disaster emergency.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Diamond – who on Friday urged other businesses to reopen along with Taste of Sicily – asked Wolf to not ignore the General Assembly’s vote.
“Governor, the people have spoken,” Diamond said.
Nora Shelly can be reached at 717-454-7817 or email@example.com
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