The State of Pennsylvania has announced that restaurants will be able to open their doors once again for indoor dining as of today Monday, January 4th. There is one catch, though. The permissible indoor capacity depends on whether or not the establishment has been “self-certified.”
Caution business owners– stay where you are – this is a trap.
According to Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin restaurants may reopen at 50% capacity as of Monday at 8:00 a.m if they have completed the online self-certification process
“Self-certifying is a simple way to promote an establishment’s commitment to its patrons’ health and safety,” said Sec. Davin. “As we enter a new year with a vaccine to contribute to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the Wolf Administration is hopeful and looking forward to supporting restaurants as much as possible in getting back to business as usual.”
Sounds benign. It is not.
Once a business has entered into this process, which requires an express legal agreement with Harrisburg, it has granted Governor Wolf and Ssecretary of Health Levine the ability to step in at any time of their choosing and shut that business down.
The backdrop is this.
The State of Pennsylvania is well aware that its legal authority to impose the ongoing “health emergency” restrictions is tenuous at best. Across the state, as a result, law enforcement officials are increasingly reluctant to enforce the unconstitutional mandates of a Governor who is acting against the will of the majority of the state legislators and without any clear statutory authority. The Wolf, in short, can huff and puff and threaten all sorts of dire consequences, but it is not certain at all that if challenged he can make good on those threats.
Enter the Certify My Restaurant program, which was rolled out in September of 2020. If you opt into the program you will be required to agree to a whole series of conditions.
“As part of these health and safety measures, you must require:
• Mask wearing
• Social distancing (of at least 6 feet)
• Limiting indoor and outdoor seating
• Close alcohol sales at 11:00 PM”
You will be required to accept the use of all the information you provide against you by the State of Pennsylvania.
The enforcement agencies listed below will be able to access your information as part of their ongoing enforcement activities.
• PA Department of State
• PA Department of Health
• PA Department of Agriculture
• PA Department of Labor & Industry
• Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control”
But, here’s the real catch. What you may not note in all the fine print buried in the multiple documents contained with the Certify My Restaurant website are two key points:
-The State of Pennsylvania reserves the right to change the restrictions and limitations placed on your business at any time. You are agreeing to a contract in which one party, the State, can alter the terms unilaterally without notice, and you will still be required to abide by the original terms on your end.
-And, once you sign on the dotted line you are now expressly agreeing to the proposition that the State of Pennsylvania has the right to shut down your business if at any time in the future you step out of line.
As a representative of this business, I understand that the most important consideration will be the health and safety of the employees and customers of my represented business. I have read these rules and will ensure strict adherence to the protocols listed.
I understand that if this business is found in violation of the requirements listed above, this certification may be revoked, and this business may be removed from the public listing of self-certified businesses.
By clicking this box, I verify that the statements made in the foregoing document are true and correct to the best of my knowledge, and belief. I understand that false statements made herein are subject to the penalties of 18 PA. C.S, Subsection 4904, relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.”
We live, or at least used to live, in a nation in which we had rights rather than privileges. Privileges are granted to you by a government and can be taken away. Rights are inalienable. You own them from birth, and nothing government can do can change that.
Wolf and his henchmen have done their best to change that since the onset of the so-called pandemic. They now talk routinely in terms of what they will “allow” you to do in your own business and with your own private property. This “Certify My Restaurant” program is a new sick twist in that regard. It seeks to make you agree that in return for being allowed to do what you already have a right to do — make a living — you must obey the edicts of a dictatorial tyrant in perpetuity.
The answer Pennsylvania is not to beg more scraps from the Governor’s table. It is to stand up, reopen and asset your rights as free citizens.
It is a trap. Do not comply.