EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s the last thing local restaurant and bar owners want during the holidays: new and potentially crippling COVID-19 restrictions.
The announcement from Governor Wolf Thursday, who believes this is one of the only practical ways to curb the steep rise in positive cases. Governor Wolf, who recently tested positive for the virus himself, said the situation we are in is dire.
The state Health Department revealed alarming new data, with 9,500 cases among children ages 5 to 18 in the past two weeks. According to Wolf, the next three weeks will be crucial to getting back to normal.
Governor Wolf rolled out additional, temporary mitigation measures on Thursday after COVID cases in Pennsylvania reached an all-time high.
“We are reporting 11,972 new cases of COVID-19,” Dr. Rachel Levine said.
“In our hospitals over the last six weeks we’ve seen a tripling of the COVID positive patients and that’s happened since about mid October,” Dr. Jaewon Ryu, president and CEO of Geisinger, said.
From December 12th to January 4th, the new mitigation rules are as follows:
- No indoor dining.
- In-person businesses at 50 percent capacity.
- Indoor gyms and fitness facilities shut down.
- Indoor entertainment venues shut down.
- Youth sports on hold.
- No indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 people.
- No outdoor gatherings of more than 50.
The Department of Health cites multiple studies that found indoor dining to drive up cases and deaths.
“We know this pandemic has been hard on businesses throughout the commonwealth and it has been crushing the restaurants and bars, unfortunately COVID-19 thrives in places where people gather together,” Governor Wolf said.
“We at the Woodlands, we’re all of those things. Hotel, restaurant, catering. I mean all of it,” The Woodlands Inn and Resort owner Ross Kornfeld said.
Eyewitness News talked to Kornfeld on Monday. He said he feared the new measures were coming, and what they would do to his business.
“Everything for us is just stopped completely. If the government doesn’t help these kinds of businesses, they wont survive,” Kornfeld said.
And Governor Wolf agrees, saying “We need our federal leaders to step up and provide the support these businesses need. This virus is insidious and it’s spreading too quickly right now to make gathering indoors a safe activity. As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, it isn’t otherwise.”
Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales may continue. Indoor venues like casinos, movie theaters, museums and bowling alleys must close.
The state referred to a new Stanford University study demonstrating that the targeted locations like restaurants and other indoor venues accounted for some eight in 10 new infections at the start of the pandemic.