Less than 2 days after denying a report that he was going to issue new business shutdown orders, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued sweeping new business shutdown orders on Thursday.
Wolf’s calling these mitigation orders a “pause” but they’re really the death knell for potentially thousands of small businesses in Pennsylvania. These orders come just 2 weeks from Christmas, a busy time of year for many businesses.
Here is a synopsis of the updated orders issued Thursday. They go into effect on Saturday, Dec. 12 and are supposed to last until Jan. 4:
- Indoor dining at restaurants is prohibited
- Sports and in-person extra-curricular activities at K-12 schools are banned
- Indoor gatherings limited to 10 people
- Outdoor gatherings limited to 50 people
- In-person businesses limited to 50% capacity
- Gyms and fitness centers must close entirely
- Indoor recreation facilities must close, too
- Spectators at pro and college sports events are prohibited
Tom Wolf Announces New COVID Mitigation Orders in Pennsylvania
Here’s a deeper look at the orders issued Thursday and how they’ll affect businesses and Pennsylvanians, in general:
Indoor Dining at Restaurants Banned in Pennsylvania
Restaurants have been subjected to some of the strictest COVID mitigation efforts in Pennsylvania. Strangely, the coronavirus apparently is more of a threat at businesses subject to the most regulations in Pennsylvania.
And restaurants here have been struggling to adapt and survive in this tumultuous year. It’s going to get even more difficult to finish the year and start 2021.
Wolf’s new order bans indoor dining at restaurants until Jan 4, 2021. This includes restaurants, breweries, bars, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events. Restaurants may still operate with outdoor dining – in mid-December, somehow – and curbside pick-up.
Only 10 People at Indoor Gatherings
Under the new orders issued Thursday, indoor gatherings in Pennsylvania must be capped at 10 people. Apparently, this includes in private homes, too. Previously, Health Secretary Rachel Levine urged Pennsylvanians not to get together with anyone outside their immediate household, including over the end-of-year holiday season.
This order does not apply to churches or other religious buildings.
Outdoor Gatherings Capped at 50 People
Events held outdoors with more than 50 people are banned until early next year, Wolf said Thursday. Spectators are banned from attending pro or college sporting events.
Gyms, Fitness Centers, Entertainment Businesses Must Close
Wolf’s latest orders on Thursday say some businesses must close entirely. This includes gyms and fitness centers and also includes businesses in the entertainment industry, including theaters, bowling alleys, concert venues, casinos, private clubs, recreational and social facilities.
In-Person Business Capacity at 50%
Any business that isn’t forced to close under Wolf’s latest orders and serves in-person customers must limit capacity to 50%.
K-12 and Youth Sports Paused
Any sports activities at K-12 schools and other youth sport organizations may not operate until these orders are lifted, at the earliest Jan. 4, 2021. This order also covers private school sports, club and travel sports, and intramural sports.
In-Person Extra-Curricular Activities in Schools Banned
School clubs and other extra-curricular activities must stop unless they’re conducted virtually, per Wolf’s new orders. However, schools can remain open. Somehow, it’s OK for kids to be in school but if they’re in something like Quiz Bowl or another after-school activity at the school, it’s a dangerous threat of spreading COVID-19.
Wolf said in defending these orders on Thursday, “We know that COVID-19 thrives in … ” blah, blah, blah.
Tom Wolf Lies, Pennsylvania Businesses Die
What Tom Wolf also said this week was a stern denial of a leak of these very same orders that came out on Tuesday night. These orders were first reported on WOLF-TV and at ErieNewsNow.com on Tuesday. The reports were seen by tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
It’s very likely that small business owners heard of these imminent shutdown orders and prepared themselves for the worst.
But before the end of that night, a representative from Wolf’s office chastised the media for spreading what it called rumors. So, if those same business owners heard that, they may have rested a little easier thinking that they wouldn’t be subjected to another round of crushing lockdowns, especially during the holiday shopping season.
However, it appears that the lecture the media received for spreading those “rumors” was one big lie.
The Governor’s office waited more than a day to formally announce them after they were leaked, however. In between the leak and the official announcement, Wolf went public saying he’d tested positive for COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Wolf has done everything in his power – and a few things outside his power, too – to make sure all focus and attention is on him and him alone. That includes hiding planned business shutdown orders he was clearly going to make but waited because news leaked before he could perform his political theater act.
By waiting until Thursday afternoon to make these announcements that he’d just denied being true, Wolf once again pulled the rug out from under thousands of small business owners and millions of parents of school-age children at the very last minute.
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