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LETTER: Add bar and restaurant workers to list of heroes

Chuck Moran
Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association
The Left Bank in York City, Saturday, March 14, 2020. The restaurant and bar announced Friday that it will be closing for 12-24 weeks. Dawn J. Sagert photo

An open letter to bar and restaurant owners and their employees concerning COVID-19:

Monday's announcement from Gov. Tom Wolf left many wondering why bars and restaurants were ordered to close. And it didn't help matters that after the order was made, there was significant confusion due to different interpretations of the order until Gov. Wolf sent out a clarification that night.

It was a tough decision, no doubt. But there's a simple answer why Pennsylvania bars and restaurants were ordered to close.

We don't want to be the next Italy. Some in the medical community fear that it could happen and happen quickly. COVID-19 has the unique ability to spread in a very short time period and impact large populations at once, as we've seen across the world.

More:Left Bank Restaurant closes its doors amid coronavirus concerns

More:Wolf declares state of emergency, shuttering all 'nonessential' businesses across state

More:York County restaurants, stores announce changes during coronavirus shutdown

Italy chose not to address social distancing until it was too late. Up until the very last minute, bars and restaurants were filled to capacity. 

The slow response by the Italian government has left staggering statistics with a health care system that is overwhelmed. News reports make it clear that hospital staffers have had to make devastating decisions about who gets treated and who they must let go. As of this morning, Italy was reporting nearly 30,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 deaths.

Gov. Wolf's order to close the state's restaurants and bars was difficult, but it was in the best interest of public health. Hopefully, it will slow the spread, flatten the curve, and give our health care networks the time they need to prepare.

It's often been said that health care professionals are on the front lines of the war against diseases, and that they are heroes. 

Let's add Pennsylvania tavern and restaurant owners, bartenders, waitresses and waiters, and other staff to the list of heroes. They're the tip of the spear in this fight. They're sacrificing revenue and salary to play their part in stopping the spread.

This crisis will pass. There was once a time that the world struggled with polio. That was until a Pennsylvania physician named Jonas Salk invented a vaccine. Today, polio is almost non-existent. Our country's smartest medical researchers are working on this, and like Jonas Salk, they'll find an answer.

And when they do, patrons will return to restaurants and bars, celebrate life, and declare victory.

— Chuck Moran is executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.