Restaurants and bars across the Philadelphia suburbs and in Pittsburgh closed their doors to dine-in patrons starting at midnight Monday to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the closures in five heavily populated counties, including Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Allegheny counties.
Wolf's order to bars and restaurants toughens a posture toward private businesses in Philadelphia's suburbs in which Wolf had urged business to “what's right." It prohibits eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars for at least 14 days, but does not bar delivery and drive-through service.
The administration will reevaluate the decision after 14 days, Wolf said in the statement.
“Ensuring the health and safety of Pennsylvanians is the highest priority as the state grapples with a growing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and as the virus continues to spread, it is in the best interest of the public to encourage social distancing by closing restaurants and bars temporarily,” Gov. Wolf said. “I understand that this is disruptive to businesses as well as patrons who just want to enjoy themselves, but in the best interest of individuals and families in the mitigation counties, we must take this step.”
Businesses that do not adhere to the order could face penalties, Wolf's administration said. In the preceding days, Wolf had urged “non-essential” businesses in the suburban Philadelphia counties to close, but he did not threaten penalties.
His administration is trying to connect businesses to financial assistance that might help offset the impact of closing, it said.