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Certificate program gives hope to restaurants across the state as they brace for winter

The state is expected to remind restaurants about a COVID-19 certification program that could allow them to increase the number of guests to 50 percent capacity.

MIFFLINBURG, Pa. — It was a light crowd at the Carriage Corner Restaurant in Mifflinburg, but the owner is just happy to be up and running again.

So, it's very good news to hear that the state's health secretary says that despite an expected surge in COVID-19 cases, the state isn't anticipating any restrictions on businesses.

"A lot of the employees, this is their mainstay, and if we're not open, it's hard on them, and I worry about them,” said owner Sue Iddings.

Other restaurants, including the Rusty Rail Brewing Company and the Scarlet D Tavern, are just as relieved.

"I'm actually very happy that they're not going to do anything because it's tough, it was a challenge, it's been more than a challenge,” said Dale Walize, the owner of the Scarlet D Tavern.

But now restaurants are bracing for winter and the loss of outdoor seating.

That's why those three restaurants are among dining establishments taking part in a state COVID certification program that allows the number of patrons to be increased to 50 percent capacity.

"The additional capacity is really important, and we just want to do the right thing and make people feel comfortable,” said Rich Schradder, the General Manager of the Rusty Rail Brewing Company.

"My job is to keep my employees safe and the customers. I want them to feel safe, and they feel safe, they're going to come in,” said Walize.

While the Health Secretary says it would be impossible to guarantee the state won't impose any restrictions on business, she did say the state is in a much better place now than it was before.

Still, restaurants say if the cases spike high enough, the state should do what it has to do to keep people safe.

"If it takes shutting down, I don't want my employees getting sick or my customers,” said Iddings.

To see how to certify your restaurant, click here or here.

Head here to see a list of COVID-certified restaurants in your area.