The Legal Brief
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Announces New Restrictions Amidst COVID-19 Cases Rising
July 15, 2020
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have been forced to adapt or close altogether under Governor Tom Wolf’s orders which have been aimed at reducing the spread of the deadly virus. However, businesses across the state have begun to reopen under social distancing guidelines in the state’s Green Phase. Nonetheless, it appears that many businesses’ operations will be disrupted once again with Governor Wolf’s announcement of new restrictions.
On July, 15, Governor Wolf announced new restrictions to take effect across the state on July 16th, 2020, in response to a rising number of cases across the state. These restrictions include:
- Indoor dining reduced to 25% capacity;
- Bars can only serve people for sit-down meals at tables only (No patrons may be served at the bar);
- Prohibition of indoor gatherings of more than 25 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 250 people;
- Telework is mandated (if possible); and
- Nightclubs are not permitted to conduct operations.
One major aspect of Governor Wolf’s order is the telework mandate. The mandate requires all businesses to conduct their operations in whole or in part remotely through teleworking unless it is not possible. This will push a lot of businesses to go back to conducting their operations as they did in red phase or yellow phase.
In Allegheny County, bars and restaurants have been subject to county specific orders for only outdoor seating and a limit on alcohol consumption. The statewide restriction will now add to those restrictions and likely continue past the current restrictions. The new restrictions ordered by Governor Wolf will only allow for sit-down meals and indoor capacity of restaurants or bars to be 25%. In addition, patrons will not be able to sit at the physical bar itself. Instead they must sit at tables and can only be served alcohol if it is in the same transaction as a meal. To-go alcohol sales will also still be permitted.
An important thing to note is what the restrictions do not account for. The restrictions expressly state that gyms are permitted to continue indoor operations. Not mentioned in the restrictions are shopping malls, retail stores, or other shopping locations. It would appear that no further restrictions will be imposed upon the retail industry.
Here at Jackson Kelly, we have regularly advised clients on how to comply with COVID-19 orders. If you have questions about navigating the newly announced restrictions, please feel free to reach out any time and we would be happy to do anything we can to help.