In the first reversal of the phased reopening plan that began in May, Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday announced a set of new restrictions on bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and workplaces that will take effect on Thursday as the state tries to head off a surge of covid-19 cases, particularly in the southwestern counties.
Along with banning bar service at restaurants and bars, the new measures limit indoor occupancy at the establishments to 25% of capacity. Nightclubs will be shut down completely. Indoor gatherings are limited to 25 people, and outdoor to 250. All gyms and fitness facilities are directed to prioritize outdoor activities. And all businesses are strongly encouraged to implement telework wherever possible.
“During the past week, we have seen an unsettling climb in new covid-19 cases,” Gov. Wolf said. “Medical experts looking at the trajectory we are on now are projecting that this new surge could soon eclipse the April peak. With our rapid case increases we need to act again now.”
Wolf said officials have identified three catalysts for the increase in cases:
- Some Pennsylvanians have been ignoring mask-wearing requirements and social distancing at bars and restaurants.
- Out-of-state travel, both by Pennsylvanians returning from travel to hotspot states, and travelers visiting the commonwealth from those hotspots.
- A lack of national coordination has resulted in states in the south and west not committing to social distancing.
The mitigation efforts included in the new orders from Gov. Wolf 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 six feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to gatherings.