Pa. to bring back bar service, expand indoor dining capacity

Bartender Kelsey Drozda makes a drink behind the bar at the Riverside Caf

Bartender Kelsey Drozda makes a drink behind the bar at the Riverside Cafe in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Wednesday, July 15, 2020.(Sean McKeag/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

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Pennsylvania is set to lift more coronavirus restrictions on businesses in the coming weeks, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday.

Effective Easter Sunday, April 4, restaurants may resume bar service, and indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75% for restaurants that undergo the self-certification process. Restaurants that do not self-certify may raise indoor dining capacity to 50%, according to the governor’s office.

Indoor capacity limits will be raised to 75% for gyms, casinos, theaters, malls, and other entertainment facilities.

The governor also announced revised maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 25% occupancy and for outdoor events to allow for 50% occupancy, both regardless of venue size. Maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with physical distancing guidelines.

It’s unclear whether Philadelphia will follow suit.

James Garrow, a spokesman for the city’s health department, said officials are reviewing changes to statewide restrictions to “determine what makes sense for Philadelphia based on our local conditions.”

“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, Philadelphia is able to remain more restrictive than the state when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation guidance,” Garrow said in an email.

Wolf in a press release commended the commonwealth as COVID-19 cases have declined and vaccination rates have risen.

“Pennsylvanians have stepped up and done their part [to] help curb the spread of COVID-19,” Wolf said. “It’s time to allow our restaurants, bars and other service businesses to get back to more normal operations.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday reported an additional 1,388 cases of COVID-19, raising the statewide total to 961,456 cases. Fourteen new deaths were reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 24,587. The statewide positivity rate for the week ending on March 11 stood at 5.7%.

To date, the state has administered more than 3.6 million vaccinations.

Wolf urged residents to continue observing coronavirus mitigation efforts, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing. Outdoor dining, curbside pick-up, and takeout are similarly encouraged.

“We’ve come so far and now is not the time to stop the safety measures we have in place to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Wolf added. “Keep wearing a mask, social distancing, and, please, get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

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