Coronavirus Pandemic

Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
coronavirus

New Restrictions for Pa. Bars, Restaurants and Gyms Now in Effect

The order comes as Pennsylvania reported about 1,000 new coronavirus infections, continuing a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of the state.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Gov. Wolf's new order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and includes new restrictions for bars, restaurants, private catered events, gyms and night clubs.
  • The order comes as Pennsylvania reported about 1,000 new coronavirus infections, continuing a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of the state.
  • The health department reported 994 new positive virus cases Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to more than 97,000.

Pennsylvania is imposing broad new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday, citing an “alarming escalation” in new coronavirus infections and heavily criticizing people who he said had disregarded public health orders.

Some of the restrictions have already been in place in Philadelphia since the shutdowns began months ago.

Nightclubs will be shut down, bars will also be closed unless they also offer dine-in meals, and bars and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity under Wolf’s order, which took effect Thursday and also requires companies statewide to have their employees telework to the extent possible.

The new restrictions, coming months after Pennsylvania began reopening its virus-battered economy, risked major backlash in large swaths of the state where the virus has largely been kept at bay.

But Wolf warned that a “new surge is in the offing” that could eclipse what happened in the spring, when the virus killed thousands and sickened tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

The Democratic governor said people who refused to wear a mask or abide by social distancing requirements while patronizing bars and restaurants are responsible in part for the virus’s resurgence.

“They are annoyingly spreading, or annoyingly picking up, the virus. This carelessness has resulted in pockets of super-spreading,” Wolf said.

He also cited out-of-state travel to virus hot spots, and blamed states in the South and West for “not committing to the things they should’ve done to keep this virus from spreading.”

“We did everything we should’ve done, we were responsible, and yet we’re paying the price right now,” he said.

“We’re already at a tipping point where we really have to act. We don’t want to become Florida. We don’t want to become Texas. We don’t want to become Arizona. We have got to act now,” said Wolf, naming three states where the virus has been surging.

Under Wolf’s order, indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 people will be prohibited. And businesses will be required to have their employees work remotely to the extent possible.

A group representing tavern owners said it’s “not a good situation” and asked for financial relief.

“It’s not going to help the struggling industry and we hope that the Legislature can come together to piece together a relief package,” said Chuck Moran of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. “People have paid their license fees and are unable to use them. People have brought staff back and will probably have to lay them off again. It’s not a good situation if you’re a licensed tavern or restaurant.”

The state Health Department reported 994 new positive virus cases Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to more than 97,000. The health department reported the results of nearly 29,000 virus tests, the highest one-day total since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health officials also reported 26 new deaths.

Pennsylvania’s recently elevated statewide virus numbers have been driven in large part by increased spread in the Pittsburgh area, where officials attribute the spike to younger people and others congregating in bars and restaurants.

Allegheny County, which had already imposed temporary restrictions on restaurants and bars, reported 246 additional infections on Wednesday from tests performed between June 30 and July 14. Infections numbers have also been up in counties ringing Allegheny.

The Philadelphia school district, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that it plans to resume limited in-person instruction in the fall, with most students in class just two days per week and learning remotely the other three.

See more details on Wolf's order below:

BARS

All bars are prohibited from conducting operations unless they offer sit-down, dine-in meals.

Alcohol can only be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal. 

All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.

Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.

Occupancy is limited to 25% of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining.

A discrete indoor event or gathering in a business in the retail food services industry is limited to 25 persons.

RESTAURANTS AND PRIVATE CATERED EVENTS

Occupancy is limited to 25% of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining. 

A discrete indoor event or gathering in a business in the retail food services industry is limited to 25 persons.

All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, 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:

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.

Customers being served must be seated at a table.

The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.

Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.          

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.

NIGHTCLUBS

All nightclubs, as defined by the Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, are prohibited from conducting operations.

GYMS

All gyms and fitness facilities, while allowed 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 with people being at least six feet apart.

OTHER EVENTS AND GATHERINGS

Events and gatherings other than those in businesses in the retail food services industry 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.

Pennsylvania's recently elevated statewide virus numbers have been driven in large part by increased spread in the Pittsburgh area, where officials attribute the spike to younger people and others congregating in bars and restaurants.

Allegheny County, which has already imposed temporary restrictions on restaurants and bars, reported 246 additional infections on Wednesday from tests performed between June 30 and July 14. Infections numbers have also been up in counties ringing Allegheny.

In other coronavirus-related developments in Pennsylvania on Wednesday:

ONLINE LEARNING

East Stroudsburg University has become the second school in Pennsylvania’s 14-school, state-owned university system to announce that it will conduct the fall semester almost entirely through remote instruction because of the danger of the coronavirus.

“While we were certain we could all return to campus with a ‘new normal’ this fall, we know now that this is not the safest, most realistic, option for our greater ESU community,” the school’s president, Marcia Welsh, said in a statement.

A “very limited” number of classes will be offered for both remote and in-person formats for student teaching, clinical placements, internships and other situations, Welsh said.

West Chester University also said it will continue remote instruction in the fall. Pennsylvania’s larger independent universities, thus far, are planning to conduct classes through in-person instruction, with many offering an option for remote learning and some limits on class size.

GUN PERMIT EXTENSION

Pennsylvania residents will be allowed to carry guns on expired permits for a little longer.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday granted another extension for holders of concealed carry permits. State police said that permits that expired March 19 or later have been extended to Sept. 30. The extension was granted because of the ongoing closure of some county courthouses and sheriff's offices.

Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us