Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf Returns PA to Lockdown Status Citing ‘New Cases’ and Citizen Defiance of Unlawful Mask Mandate
You’ll go to sleep tonight halfway free, and wake up back in a draconian lockdown.
Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf petulantly announced new coronavirus regulations on businesses that mainly target bars and restaurants, citing new cases despite the offsetting new tests.
He was particularly upset by the fact that citizens throughout the Keystone State have been in open defiance of his unlawful, unenforceable mask mandate.
An order released Wednesday that will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on July 16 reduces indoor dining capacity at businesses in the retail foodservice industry from the current 50 percent to just 25 percent.
It also forces bars to close unless they are serving sit-down, dine-in meals, and mandates that alcohol can only be served if it is within the same transaction as a meal or if it is for offsite consumption.
Music and nightclubs must close, too and gyms, while still allowed to permit workouts indoors, are asked to consider offering more outdoor workout activities.
Additionally, bar service is prohibited, even outdoors, but the state’s outdoor dining rules have otherwise not changed. Takeout and delivery orders can continue to be placed, as well.
The order also requires businesses to have employees telework if possible and indoor gatherings are now limited to just 25 people (except for religious ones) while outdoor ones cannot exceed 250.
Wolf claims with little evidence that the reason for the rollback in freedoms associated with the green phase of his reopening plan is due to fears about a new coronavirus case surge.
“During the past week, we have seen an unsettling climb of new COVID-19 cases throughout Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.
Wolf went on to say during a news conference Wednesday that three factors, according to contract tracers, have led to an increase in confirmed coronavirus case counts daily: Citizens defying the state’s mask mandate at bars and restaurants, out-of-state travel, and a lack of national coordination in terms of reopening decisions in other states.
Pennsylvania reported nearly 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases as of 12:01 a.m. on July 14, and has been consistently reporting nearly 1,000 cases per day for multiple days in a row.
But this coincides with a surge in testing.
Here are the complete details of Wolf’s order, courtesy of a press release:
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 6 feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to gatherings.