The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on so many businesses, but the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard.

With no end in sight to capacity limits and many people still nervous to dine out, restaurants statewide are on the brink of devastation.

New legislation is now being introduced to try to provide some relief for these businesses.

"When you close, you don't open again. It's hard to," said Stephen Mazalewski, co-owner of Bonnie & Clyde Pub & Grill in Lehighton.

That's the reality restaurant owners like Mazalewski and his wife Joyce could soon be facing, with no end to the pandemic, or the governor's restrictions, in sight.

While big box stores continue to bring in crowds of people, restaurants remain restricted to 25 percent capacity indoors. Owners say it's not sustainable.

"That hurt us even worse. You're excited to be open at 50 percent. You rearrange your dining area, rearrange your facility to be able to accommodate 50 percent capacity and next thing you know you're being shut down to 25 percent," said Mazalewski.

New legislation being introduced in Harrisburg would let restaurants continue collecting the six percent sales tax for food and beverage, but allow them to keep that money, rather than handing it over to the state, until restrictions are lifted.

State Representative Gary Day is one of two Lehigh Valley Republicans introducing the bill.

"Six months is when you'll actually see these restaurants close for good," said Day.

That's why he wants to move quickly to get the legislation under a vote.

"If we're going to single out one industry, we should then single them out for aid and assistance as well," said Day.

The bill is being backed by the Chamber of Commerce.

"This would be immediate money back into our restaurants so that the need is right now. There is no question they are struggling. We need the attention of the governor," said Marlyn Kissner, executive vice president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corporation.

For Mazalewski, it's a small amount of relief, which could still make a difference.

"Every little bit helps. It's not a phenomenal amount of money but whatever we can get can help us," said Mazalewski.

"The Chamber is all about the power of partnerships and collaborations so how can we work with everybody so that our restaurants are not closing. Because they are in jeopardy right now," said Kissner.

Representative Day tells News 13 the bill was set to be officially introduced on Thursday. It remains to be seen if it will get enough support to move forward in Harrisburg.