City officials clarify order that had allowed restaurants to open

COVID-19 Update_FB

A misunderstanding of Gov. Tom Wolf’s directives led to a few Bradford restaurants being open Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kennedy Street Cafe had been open Tuesday and Wednesday, and on Wednesday afternoon, John Williams European Pastry Shop had opened its dine-in facilities, with a message indicating that Bradford City’s health department had said it was only a “strong recommendation” that dine-in facilities close.

Earlier this week, Wolf issued a directive closing all dine-in facilities to stop the spread of COVID-19, and allowed only take out and delivery.

However, city officials said the directive wasn’t put in writing to the state agencies that oversee licensing of restaurants.

“We have never closed them,” Health Director Mike Cleveland said Wednesday afternoon. “The governor’s order was very weirdly worded. We’ve been back-and-forth with the Department of Agriculture.”

Officials with the Department of Agriculture told Bradford officials that they “had nothing in writing” that meant restaurants had to close dine-in facilities, Cleveland said. He also contacted the state’s Liquor Control Board, and was told something similar.

City administrator Chris Lucco said, “It is very important to note that we had been given conflicting information by the licensing boards that oversee these businesses.”

Mayor James McDonald apologized for the confusion, and said he had been in discussions with state Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, to clarify Wolf’s order.

“We’ve been trying to do the best we can with the mandates the governor is handing out,” McDonald explained. “It’s been unclear to our restaurant inspectors and the city solicitors about what restaurants need to do with our dine-in facilities. It’s been hard. People are confused.”

He clarified that facilities cannot offer dine-in options; take out and delivery are all that is permitted at this time.

“They cannot serve people in the buildings,” the mayor said. “I apologize for any misunderstanding.

“We are doing the best we can to make sense of an unprecedented situation.”

Causer added that he is “very concerned with the hardship this is placing” on businesses, but added that in the interest of public safety, it cannot be helped.