Pennsylvania has announced new mitigation measures to curb the spread of the pandemic amid dire new projections that the northern state will see as many as 22,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in December.
While Gov. Tom Wolf, R-Pa., stopped short of issuing a stay-at-home order, his administration is implementing several restrictions aimed at discouraging people from socializing in large groups until further notice. One rule that’s attracting a lot of attention is specifically targeted at Thanksgiving week, which is considered a high-risk time for COVID-19 spread. (Related: 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Tricks For Easier Cooking.)
All bars and restaurants across Pennsylvania have been ordered to halt on-premise alcohol sales from 5 p.m. on Wednesday until 8 a.m. on Thursday. The 15-hour ban is meant to curb the spread of the virus on one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, according to Wolf. The move was based on scientific research, which shows that bars are major virus hotspots due to the danger of “heavy breathing in close proximity.”
The governor urged everyone to think about the long-term benefits of the seemingly draconian measure by pointing out that short-term sacrifices could yield long-term gains.
“That’s what we should be focused on—not whether we want to get transitory benefit from going out with friends . . . and having some drinks,” he said. “Let’s forgo that this one time, and if we do that and all these other things, we’re going to get back to life as we really want to and go to the bar anytime we want.”
The move was met with disapproval from the alcohol industry. Officials from the Distilled Spirits Council, the national trade association for spirits makers, criticized the governor for taking the perceived path of least resistance.
“Times are hard enough for these small business owners. The governor should be looking for ways to boost these businesses—not take away a critical revenue stream,” David Wojnar, vice president of state government relations at the Distilled Spirits Council, said in a statement.
New capacities for indoor and outdoor venues have also been established, and they are as follows:
For indoor venues:
- Capacity is capped at 10% for venues with a maximum occupancy of up to 2,000;
- Capacity is capped at 5% for venues with capacity of up to 10,000;
- No venues can hold events with more than 500 people.
For outdoor venues:
- Capacity is capped at 15% for venues with a maximum capacity of up to 2,000;
- Capacity is capped at 10% for venues with occupancy of up to 10,000;
- For venues that hold more than 10,000 people, capacity is capped at 5% up to 2,500.
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