Round the Clock Diner could face $10K per day fines for dine-in service

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The state Department of Agriculture issued warning letters Thursday to Round the Clock Diner's two York County locations for offering dine-in service in defiance of Gov. Tom Wolf's shutdown order, a department spokesperson confirmed.

Under the department's new COVID-19 enforcement guidelines, restaurants that continue to defy the order could face penalties of up to $10,000 per day.

Round the Clock Diner reopened its dining rooms Sunday in Manchester Township and Springettsbury Township.

"We have some people coming from two hours away, just to come and support the restaurant," spokesperson Demos Sacarellos said Thursday. "People are ready to go back."

Customers wait in line outside Round the Clock Diner on Route 30, not only for take-out orders but also to have their first sit-down mean in a restaurant since the start of Governor Wolf's COVID-19 shutdown. After learning that the York County District Attorney's office would not enforce criminal penalties due to Governor Wolf's shutdown orders, Round the Clock Diner opened to eat-in customers Sunday, May 10, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Both diner locations have been following safety guidelines such as sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, using disposable paper menus and requesting that customers wear face masks, Sacarellos said.

"As much as we have our own rights, and we should definitely exercise them, we should also be extremely cautious, and that’s why we have these safety regulations in place and we will abide by them," he said.

Sacarellos hadn't seen the Department of Agriculture's new guidelines when he spoke to The York Dispatch on Thursday, but he said he would review them with his business partners to assess their next steps.

More than half of Pennsylvania counties will be allowed to start easing the governor's COVID-19 restrictions Friday when they move into the yellow phase of reopening, but even in the yellow phase, restaurants are prohibited from offering dine-in service.

Carryout and delivery orders are allowed.

Enforcement: In new guidelines released Thursday, the Department of Agriculture announced it will send a food inspector to restaurants that are reportedly open for dine-in service, to confirm the report.

If they're found to be in violation, restaurants will receive a warning letter and a follow-up visit to check whether they're complying. If they're still considered noncompliant, the state could move to suspend the restaurants' retail food licenses.

If restaurants continue operating without a license, the Agriculture Department will file citations against them in district court and seek civil penalties, as high as $10,000 per day, for each day the restaurant is in violation.

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