Local businesses react to amended gathering limits

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The latest guidelines from the Pennsylvania government will bring a little relief for indoor and outdoor gatherings in the state including sporting events, fairs, festivals and concerts.

Governor Tom Wolf says the state will be amending the venue gathering limits to focus more on the venue capacity beginning this Friday. A calculator included with the announcement shows how this will affect differently sized venues.

Previously outdoor gathering were capped at 250 people regardless of venue size. Now, up to 7,500 people can be at a venue if it can hold over 10,000 people outdoors.

On average, stadiums in northeastern and central Pennsylvania can hold one to three thousand people. Under the new guidelines, these stadiums can allow up to 600 people.

The Superintendent of Crestwood School District tells Eyewitness News the increase in capacity is refreshing.

“We were hopeful that there would be an opportunity for our participants of fall activities to have their family members and friends get to see them. This comes, I think, at a great time,” Superintendent Bob Mehalick said.

In addition, the changes would apply to parties and receptions within multi-room venues, amusement parks and business meetings or conferences.

However, local businessman Thom Greco, says the restrictions are still not black and white for venues with a liquor license.

“Under the liquor control board regulations for license we can’t do more than 25 people, so we’re hoping it will change,” Oyster Restaurant Owner Greco said.

The Oyster Restaurant has been able to increase its capacity with self certification.

“But what we’re looking at, is being able to increase our capacity so we can increase our revenue to make it more financially feasible,” Greco said.

Venues are still required to follow guidelines from the state’s health department and CDC.

“If our case investigation and contact tracing efforts determine that events or gatherings are the source of an outbreak, we can and will dial back these new limits,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.

The new changes do not apply to offices or classrooms. Any gathering restrictions established by local authorities, such as those established in State College, remain in effect.

The Department of Health says all COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as mask wearing and social distancing, remain in place, in all circumstances.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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