Pennsylvania restaurants, bars see some COVID-19 restrictions lifted on Easter Sunday outside Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — As of Easter Sunday, more business and event capacity limits in Pennsylvania are now expanded and long-standing coronavirus restrictions on bar service have been lifted – except in Philadelphia.

Starting April 4, patrons can once again saddle up to the bar and get alcohol service without the purchase of food in Pennsylvania.

Bar and restaurant capacity is raised to 75% from 50% for self-certified establishments, though customers will still need to be six feet apart. Those restaurants that do not self-certify may raise capacity to 50 percent.

Gyms, malls and casinos will also be allowed to increase capacity to 75%.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel if we continue to follow safety guidance and get vaccinated,” Governor Tom Wolf tweeted Sunday.

Outdoor venues will be allowed 50% capacity. Indoor events like concerts and sports events will be restricted to 25% capacity.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia will not adopt Pennsylvania’s relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on April 4, health commissioner says

The list of changes was announced by Governor Wolf on March 15.

Days later, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the city will not follow the rest of the state in adopting relaxed restrictions on April 4.

“We believe that those changes, if we adopt them here in the City of Philadelphia could further increase rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Farley said.

So for Philadelphia restaurants, it remains that if they meet ventilation standards they can have indoor dining at 50% capacity. If they do not, they can have indoor dining at 25% capacity.

Farley said that beginning April 4, the city will allow the maximum capacity of outdoor catered events to expand to 250 people, with some restrictions. The Department of Public Health strongly encourages people over the age of 65 to be fully vaccinated before attending one of these events.

The city will also allow food to be served at business meetings.

Throughout April, Farley said he will review the local trends in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to gauge if it is safe to further loosen restrictions and come closer in line with the state’s guidance. If that happens, the city will announce the changes before April 30, so businesses can plan for the updated guidance.

Meanwhile, attendance was allowed to increase at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday for the Philadelphia Phillies’ third game of the season..

The Phillies are playing “in front of the biggest crowd of the season thus far,” radio broadcaster Scott Franzke said.

Franzke said CBP was allowed to increase the occupancy limit from 20% to 25%.

This means the maximum capacity is now up to 11,000.

“If you are familiar with the setup at Citizens Bank Park, if you think of the Hall of Fame level, the 200 level, the 300 level, all in the right field corner, both left and right of the pole, those sections have been emptied the first two games, but they are loaded up now,” Franzke said. “Obviously, socially distanced seating.”

Phillies television broadcaster Tom McCarthy would confirm the updated attendance later in the game, as well.

The following is the list of changes now in effect in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia:

RESTAURANTS:

-Restaurants may resume bar service;

-Alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food;

-The curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted;

-Indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75 percent for those restaurants that are currently self-certified and those that undergo the self-certification process, which involves agreeing to strictly comply to all public health safety guidelines and orders, including the cleaning and mitigation protocols and other operational requirements contained in the Governor and Secretary of Health’s mitigation and enforcement orders issued on November 23, 2020, as amended.

-Those restaurants that do not self-certify may raise capacity to 50 percent.

-Outdoor dining, curbside pick-up and takeout are still encouraged.

-Requirements such as mask-wearing, and social distancing, including 6 feet between diners, also still apply.

OTHER BUSINESSES

-Capacity for other businesses also will be increased effective April 4, including moving personal services facilities, gyms and entertainment facilities (casinos, theatres, malls) to 75 percent occupancy.

EVENTS:
-Maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 25% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size;

-Maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events to allow for 50% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size.

-Maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.

“Pennsylvanians have stepped up and done their part of help curb the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “Our case counts continue to go down, hospitalizations are declining, and the percent positivity rate gets lower every week – all very positive signs. The number of people getting vaccinated increases daily and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time to allow our restaurants, bars and other service businesses to get back to more normal operations.”

Wolf also urged everyone to continue wearing masks, keep socially distant, and follow safety orders.

“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,” Gov. Wolf said. “Keep wearing a mask, social distancing, and, please, get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

SEE ALSO: Pennsylvania set to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on April 4

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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