By Bob Katzen

The senate 7-32, rejected an amendment that would allow bars and pubs to apply for food service establishment permits in order to be designated as restaurants for purposes of the phased reopening. It also directs local licensing authorities to expedite review and processing of these applications.

“This amendment allows bars and pubs to apply for categorization as restaurants,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “One of my constituents owns a pub in another district. She has faced challenges obtaining a food permit to try to avoid financial ruin. She’s in danger of losing everything because she still can’t open her doors. This amendment does not disregard the health and safety of customers. It simply provides an option for bars and pubs. This doesn’t get rid of the licensing process. It just expedites it and makes it more equitable. It costs the state nothing and creates another avenue to potential economic recovery. Our residents are begging us to take action right now. The livelihoods of our constituents, of our bar and pub owners is at stake.”

Amendment opponents said the amendment points yet again to the failure of the federal government to step in and provide adequate relief. They said they understand that businesses are struggling but argued that it is not the time for the state to overstep its bounds and take the unprecedented step of controlling local boards of health which are doing their best to keep people safe.

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