Pennsylvania is banning sales of alcohol at restaurants and bars on the eve of Thanksgiving to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
This new order was one of several new mitigation efforts announced Monday during a press conference held by Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine.
Levine announced the measures to the public.
Pennsylvania Bans Alcohol Sales at Restaurants and Bars on Thanksgiving Eve
Here’s a quick breakdown of the new mitigation efforts announced Monday.
The order on the prohibition of alcohol sales goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and lasts through the Thanksgiving morning at 8 a.m. Additionally, the order says “no patron may possess alcoholic beverages … after 6 p.m.” (Nov. 25).
The prohibition is obviously designed to crack down on gatherings on what is traditionally one of the busier nights for restaurants and bars. This order does not affect the current occupancy levels permitted by the Dept. of Health for restaurants, which is currently 25% (or 50% for establishments that have COVID-safety certified themselves with the state).
“It turns out that the biggest day for drinking is the day before Thanksgiving,” Wolf said. “When people get together, it leads to an increase in the exchange of the fluids. Let’s forgo that, this one time. We can go to bars any time we want.”
It should be noted that the Governor and Health Secretary have made it nearly impossible to operate throughout the pandemic
“The one thing we can’t do is ignore reality,” he said. “This is the kind of place that speeds up transmission of this virus.”
Telework Mandated (Where Possible)
Starting on Nov. 27, businesses must allow employees to work remotely if it’s possible, Levine said Monday.
Limits on “Large Gatherings”
Pennsylvania also reduced the size of allowable large gatherings. Under the new order announced on Monday, indoor events must be limited to no more than 500 people. Outdoor events must be limited to 2,500. Any events bigger than those are prohibited.
Schools Must Sign Attestation Form to Stay Open
In order for school districts located in a county that’s got a Substantial community transmission of the COVID virus to stay open, they are now required to sign what the state is calling an “attestation form” that promises they’re enacting COVID mitigation efforts.
If a school doesn’t sign this form, they’ll be forced to use a completely virtual class schedule. The state already recommends that schools use a full virtual class schedule if their county faces a Substantial risk of COVID transmission. If a school is forced to go to a remote format and doesn’t sign that form, due by Nov. 30, it must cancel extra-curricular activities.
Stay at Home Advisory
Levine also announced a Stay at Home Advisory. This is not a Stay at Home order like the one announced locally here back in April.
“In order to stay safe, Pennsylvanians ought to stay home,” Levine urged.
During Monday’s press conference, Wolf dismissed any idea of returning to a Stay at Home order or to enacting his Red-Yellow-Green phases.
Advisory to Avoid Gatherings with People Outside Your Household
Pennsylvania also issued an advisory for its residents to avoid gatherings with people from outside their own household. Again, just an advisory and not an order.
Hospitals May Have to Reduce Elective Procedures
Levine also said Pennsylvania hospitals may be forced to reduce or eliminate elective procedures if a health region experiences several factors at once that signal a reduced capacity.
Here are the metrics the Dept. of Health will monitor to determine if hospitals within a specific region of Pennsylvania will be forced to cut elective procedures:
- Staffing shortages: Hospitals anticipate a one-thirds reduction in staffing over the next week
- COVID surge: Admissions due to COVID spike more than 50% in the last 48 hours
- Bed availability: Hospitals anticipate less than 10% available for patient care over the next 72 hours
With these new orders, Levine and Wolf each said that enforcement of the orders, including the new face mask order issued last week, will be stepped up in an effort to compel compliance.
“We are in a very dangerous situation,” Levine said Monday.
Here’s a copy of the official order signed by Wolf:
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