Pennsylvania event industry still struggling, urges Gov. Wolf to offer more guidance

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania event industry advocates are pushing for Governor Tom Wolf to offer more guidance on when event restrictions will ease.

Allie Ranck and Steve Orlando of Fishtown are scheduled to get married in July.

They already postponed their wedding a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was pretty tough. We're high school sweethearts, so we've been dating for 12 years now, and once we were ready to get married, we wanted to get married right away," said Ranck. "We never wanted a long engagement."

But now they say they're stuck in limbo. In Pennsylvania, indoor events are limited to 15% capacity, and attendees need to stay six feet apart. But in Philadelphia, where their venue is located, indoor catered events are currently prohibited, with no end in sight.

"We're at the point where we waited a whole extra year. We want to get married no matter what, so if we have to do it in our parent's backyard, that's what we'll do," said Ranck.

Event professionals and advocates are pressuring Gov. Wolf to provide a roadmap, explaining when indoor event restrictions will ease while places like New Jersey eased restrictions for weddings to 35% capacity.

"If they say, 'oh you're open tomorrow,' the next three months of weddings are done. They've gone to New Jersey, they've gone to New York, they've gone to Connecticut," said Jeffrey Miller of Jeffrey Miller Catering in Delaware County.

The Private Event Professionals of Pennsylvania (PEPP), the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA), and the Philadelphia/South Jersey/Delaware chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) launched to get the Wolf administration to open the event industry to 50% capacity immediately.

They report that millions of event workers' livelihoods are at stake, and many are still hurting even a year after the pandemic first hit.

"We've really been knocked out completely," said Miller. "We're down 72% other caterers are down seventy, eighty, ninety percent in sales."

The Pennsylvania Department of Health did not return Action News' request for comment regarding when Gov. Wolf will offer guidance.

"It's not that we need the answer tomorrow to say, 'listen open up to 100%.' We're saying give us a metric so these guys can feel comfortable planning something three months from now or six months from now," said Ben Fileccia, director of operations and strategy of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.
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