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Tyrell Owens, of Lancaster city, puts food on his plate while making his way down the Shady Maple Smorgasboard buffet line on Friday, July 31, 2020. The buffet opened back up to the public on July 9, instituting a "touchless" buffet.

A good deal more Lancaster County restaurants have signed up for a state program that allows them to increase indoor seating capacity to 50%.

The state Department of Labor & Industry lists 720 restaurants in Lancaster County, and as of Friday 273 sites had completed the self-certification necessary to boost capacity. Only 160 had signed up by Oct. 2.

Misconceptions about the self-certification process appear to be playing a role in keeping restaurants from signing up, although in some cases, self-certifying brings little benefit.

As of Sept. 21, establishments that want to increase indoor seating capacity from 25% to 50% could begin certifying with the state that they are complying with all COVID-19 public health guidelines, require mask wearing, follow 6-foot social distancing rules and end alcohol sales at 11 p.m., among other things.

Restaurants that do self-certify are listed on the Open & Certified Pennsylvania searchable database that is updated daily.

Self-certification involves filling out and submitting a one-page online form.

Some restaurant owners seem to have a “misconception self-certifying could open them up to additional inspections, liability …. To be clear, none of that is true or accurate,” Casey Smith of Department of Community and Economic Development said in a past interview. DCED administers the self-certification program.

In other cases, particularly at establishments with large bars in relatively small spaces, increasing to 50 percent capacity does little to help because bar seating is stilled banned and tables must be spaced out to allow for social distancing.