BREAKING: Wolf Announces New Restrictions

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a new round of restrictions Thursday, including a ban on indoor dining, closure of gyms and casinos, and a “pause” of high school and youth sports, for three weeks.

These measures take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and remain in effect until 8 a.m. Jan 4, 2021. Wolf cited the continued rise of COVID-19 cases across the Commonwealth and strains on hospitals as the main reason for the measures.

“Today I am announcing additional, temporary COVID-19 protective mitigation measures in the commonwealth,” Wolf said. “With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals: First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Second, keep our hospitals and health care workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season – and closer to a widely available vaccine – as safely as possible. This is a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania.”

Limited-Time Mitigation efforts announced today include:

In-Person Dining and Alcohol Sales

  • All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events is prohibited.
  • Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue, subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law, or this or any other Order issued by the Sec. of Health or by the governor.

Indoor Gatherings and Events

  • Indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited.
  • Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of congregate worship are specifically excluded from the limitations set forth above during religious services (editor’s note – it should be noted that the United States Supreme Court struck down a limitation on religious services in New York state last month), these institutions are strongly encouraged to find alternative methods for worship, as in-person gatherings pose a significant risk to participants at this time. While this an incredibly difficult recommendation to make, particularly at this time of year, faith leaders must carefully weigh the health risks to their congregants given the immense amount of community spread of COVID-19.

Outdoor Gatherings and Events

  • Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons are prohibited.

Capacity Limits for Businesses

  • All in-person businesses serving the public may only operate at up to 50% of the maximum capacity stated on the applicable certificate of occupancy, except as limited by existing orders to a smaller capacity limit.

Gyms and Fitness Facilities

  • Indoor operations at gyms and fitness facilities are prohibited.
  • Outdoor facilities and outdoor classes can continue, but all participants must wear face coverings in accordance with the Sec. of Health’s Updated Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings, including any subsequent amendments, and practice physical distancing requirements.

Entertainment Industry

  • All in-person businesses in the entertainment industry serving the public within a building or indoor defined area, including, but not limited to, theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys, private clubs, and all other similar entertainment, recreational or social facilities, are prohibited from operation.

In-Person Extracurricular School Activities

  • Voluntary activities sponsored or approved by a school entity’s governing body or administration are suspended, but these extracurricular activities may be held virtually. This includes, but is not limited to, attendance at or participation in activities such musical ensembles, school plays, student council, clubs, and school dances.

K-12 School Sports and Youth Sports

  • All sports at K-12 public schools, nonpublic schools, private schools and club, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are paused.

Professional and Collegiate Sports

  • Professional or collegiate sports activities may continue in accordance with guidance from the CDC and the Department of Health.
  • Spectators may not attend such sports activities in person.