HARRISBURG – State officials are implementing stricter mitigation orders on restaurants and bars, indoor gatherings, and more as more COVID-19 cases continue spiking statewide. During a press conference Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf announced an executive order that announces bars and restaurants must limit indoor occupancy to 25% or 25 people for a discrete indoor event or gathering. This includes staff. Outdoor dining regulations remain the same. Any on-premise alcohol sales in bars and restaurants must be with meals only, but cocktails-to-go are still permitted.
Nightclubs are prohibited from conducting operations.
Governor Wolf says three catalysts led to this decision, “Some Pennsylvanians have been ignoring the mask wearing requirements and social distancing, and this careless has led to pockets of super-spreading. Second is out-of-state travel, and the lack of national coordination.”
In addition, indoor gatherings are reduced to 25 people or less, but outdoor events can still have up to 250 people. This limit also includes staff. Unless not possible, all business are required to conduct operations in whole or in part remotely through teleworking. If teleworking is not possible, employees may conduct in-person business operations, provided they fully comply with previous safety orders.
But the governor says there’s still lots we can do, “Small gatherings of friends in the backyard or at a local park are still permitted. Children and families are encouraged to responsibly take advantage of one or more 121 PA state parks. Children can visit local playgrounds, community pools, they can enjoy outdoor activities with their families. Gyms and fitness centers can remain open and are encouraged to offer more outdoor fitness options.”
He also says the decision is necessary for even rural counties, including the Valley, “This is a very targeted approach because we know more about the disease because we have contact tracing. We also know the disease is not respecting boundaries, so we’re doing what we need to do in a targeted fashion. Most of the counties in Pennsylvania actually are seeing increases…not to the extent of Allegheny or Philadelphia County…but this is something that extends across the commonwealth.”
Businesses and individuals in violation of these orders, could be subject to fines, business closure or other applicable enforcement measures.
More info below:
Governor Tom Wolf and Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today signed new orders for targeted mitigation efforts in response to the recent rise in COVID cases, primarily in southwest Pennsylvania, but also in other counties in the state, influencing the decision for statewide mitigation efforts for bars and restaurants, gatherings and telework. The new orders take effect at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, July 16, 2020.
The mitigation efforts included in the new orders from Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine include:
Bars and Restaurants
All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by the order, including:
- Prohibition from conducting operations unless the facility offers sit-down, dine-in meals or is serving take-out sales of alcoholic beverages. All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.
- Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal.
- Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.
- Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e. tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
- Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.
- Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a discrete indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.
- All nightclubs, as defined by the Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, are prohibited from conducting operations.
Other events and gatherings
Events and gatherings must adhere to these gathering limitations:
- Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
- Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
- The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.
- Unless not possible, all businesses are required to conduct their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which they do business.
- Where telework is not possible, employees may conduct in-person business operations, provided that the businesses fully comply with all substantive aspects of the business safety order, the worker safety order, and the masking order.
Gyms and fitness facilities
- All gyms and fitness facilities, while permitted to continue indoor operations, are directed to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. All activities must follow masking requirements as provided by the July 1 order, and must provide for social distancing requirements of persons being at least 6 feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to gatherings.
Businesses and individuals in violation of these orders, issued pursuant to the authority granted to the Governor and the Secretary of Health under the law, including the Pennsylvania Disease Control and Prevention Law, could be subject to fines, business closure or other applicable enforcement measures.
Beginning with a spike in cases in Allegheny County in late June, Pennsylvania has seen cases continue to rise there and in other southwest counties, along with additional select counties in the state.
The state has identified three catalysts for case increases:
- First, some Pennsylvanians have been ignoring mask-wearing requirements and social distancing when they are visiting Pennsylvania bars and restaurants. There they are unknowingly spreading or picking up the virus.
- Second is out-of-state travel. Both by Pennsylvanians returning from travel to hotspot states, and travelers visiting our commonwealth from those hotspots.
- And third, a lack of national coordination has resulted in states in the south and west not committing to social distancing.