PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gov. Tom Wolf announced more COVID-19 mitigation efforts Wednesday for Pennsylvania targeting restaurants, bars and gatherings as a result of rising cases. Wolf says Pennsylvania is at a tipping point.
Under the order, restaurants’ indoor capacity will be reduced to 25% while alcohol consumption will be limited to service with meals only. Establishments that do not serve food are ordered to close, Wolf said.
Wolf said current outdoor dining guidelines remain in place and cocktails-to-go and carry-out beverages will continue to be allowed.
This new announcement took restaurant owners by surprise, and it comes as a major blow for one Delaware County bar owner. He’s beginning to think of a plan B to figure out how he’s going to survive.
“I think he’s going overboard,” said Vince Alierando, owner of Hunt’s Annex Lounge in Woodlyn.
Alierando says they attempted to reopen during the yellow phase, but the guidelines were so strict they weren’t able to keep the doors open.
“25% is not going to allow us to be open. We can’t run the air conditioner, we cannot pay the employees. 25% would bring me down to 21 people allowed in my building. That includes my employees. I have three or four employees, now we’re down to 15, 16 patrons allowed in here at a time,” Alierando said.
Alierando is disappointed and is thinking of alternative means to survive.
“To not sugarcoat it, I may have to go get a part-time job until things subside. I don’t want to lose the business,” He said.
Businesses in violation of these orders could be subject to fines, business closure or other enforcement measures.
Additionally, telework must be implemented whenever possible while indoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and outdoor gatherings may have a maximum of 250 people, Wolf said.
The governor is blaming people ignoring the commonwealth’s mask mandate and social distancing rules, out-of-state travel and a lack of national coordination for the rises in cases.
“Unfortunately, this virus doesn’t respect state boundaries and so we’re paying the price in different ways for what states and other places have not done, “Wolf said. “We don’t want to become Florida, we don’t want to become Texas, we don’t want to become Arizona. We have got to act now.”
Gyms will still be permitted indoor operations but will be advised to prioritize outdoor fitness activities.
Pennsylvania reported 944 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 97,665.
There were also another 26 coronavirus-related deaths in the state. The death toll now stands at 6,957.
Officials say there were 139,819 COVID-19 tests administered between July 8 and 14, leading to 5,372 positive cases within the last seven days.
“As the entire state is now in the green phase, we must remain committed to protecting against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach. However, the virus has not gone away and we are seeing cases rise, especially in Southwest Pennsylvania.”
Masks are required to be worn while inside all businesses and when leaving your home.
CBS3’s Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.