With COVID-19 cases on the rise — the state health department reported 44,502 positive cases over the past seven days — Pennsylvania is issuing what it called targeted safety measures to slow the transmission rate.
Gov. Tom Wolf said the state is trying to balance many needs.
“We want to make sure we protect public health, but we also continue to support a very fragile economy,” said Gov. Tom Wolf.
One of the new orders is very targeted. It’s aimed at one night only – Thanksgiving eve. State Health Secretary Rachel Levine said bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 5 p.m. and not resume sales until 8 a.m. the following morning.
The night before Thanksgiving is historically the busiest night of the year for bars, as young people returning to their hometown for the Thanksgiving holiday often meet up with old friends. Such large gatherings could lead to the spread of the virus among people who would then take it home to their families.
In other news, bars and restaurants are being offered extended liability for those who self-certify that they are complying with all state and CDC guidelines and are enforcing mask wearing.
Capacity remains at 50% for those that self-certify and 25% for those who do not.
For other businesses, Levine asked that they allow employees to work remotely from home if at all possible.
Retailers should maintain 75% capacity and enforce mask-wearing.
Gyms and salons should maintain 50% capacity and enforce mask wearing.
“The commonwealth is in a precarious place right now,” said Wolf. “We have more people in the hospital right now than we did in the height of the pandemic in the spring, more than 3,000.”
The state’s new orders may not be the end word on mitigation efforts. Levine also announced that the state was giving municipalities more authority to take target action locally, where they see fit.
That means the local government of areas with higher transition rates may issue additional restrictions in their area, while areas with lower infection rates would not be impacted.