Restaurant Restrictions Loosen as Pennsylvania Allows 75 Percent Capacity

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As of April 4, restaurants and bars located in Pennsylvania have been permitted to operate at 75 percent capacity.  Governor Wolf announced the decision last month, citing the declining numbers of COVID-19 cases in-state and increasing vaccination rates.

These changes allow restaurants to resume bar service, alcohol service without the purchase of food, lifting the curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables, and of course allowing restaurants to raise indoor dining capacities to 75 percent. 

This increased indoor capacity is only available to restaurants that are self-certified or undergo the self-certification process, which involves agreeing to comply with all health and safety guidelines and orders.  This includes the cleaning and mitigation protocols and other operational requirements contained in the Governor and Secretary of Health’s mitigation and enforcement orders issued on November 23, 2020.  Restaurants that do not comply with these orders and do not self-certify are limited to operating at 50 percent capacity.

Although these adjustments mark a positive turn for the Commonwealth, earlier restrictions, such as outdoor dining, curbside pick-up, and takeout are still encouraged.  Further, requirements such as mask-wearing, stringent cleaning, and social distancing requiring at least 6 feet between patrons are still in place.

Also on April 4, gyms, personal services facilities, gyms, and entertainment such as casinos, theaters, and malls were permitted to increase their maximum capacity from 50 percent to 75 percent.  Beginning the same day, indoor events were permitted to be at 25 percent capacity regardless of venue size, provided that attendees remain 6 feet apart at all times. And outdoor events were allowed to be held at 50 percent capacity, a 30 percent increase from January 4th’s 20 percent mandate.  Social distancing procedures are also required to remain in place for outdoor gatherings.

These eased restrictions mark the most relaxed rules the state has had in place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic over a year ago.  Pennsylvanians remain hopeful that these more lenient requirements along with the increased vaccination numbers are indicative of a more positive future for the Commonwealth.  

Vaccination numbers in Pennsylvania are on the rise, as the majority of counties in the state have opened vaccination to all adults.  But at the same time, the number of cases with variant strains of the virus are also on the rise.  The number of positive COVID-19 tests have increased one percentage point from the previous week’s numbers. And hospitalizations in Allegheny County have continued to increase rather than decrease.    In Pennsylvania alone there have been 5,060 new cases of the coronavirus and 44 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  As such, it remains unclear whether these loosened restrictions are actually indicative of a positive change for the Commonwealth.

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