Pennsylvania tightens COVID-19 restrictions amid rising cases

The new mitigation order prohibits indoor dining and requires businesses to operate at 50 percent of their maximum capacity.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced new temporary restrictions for businesses and gatherings, including the prohibition of indoor dining. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA | FILE

Pennsylvania will implement new COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining, gatherings, business capacities and sporting events beginning Dec. 12 and lasting until Jan. 4, 2021, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday.

The new mitigation order comes after Pennsylvania reported 11,972 new cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 10. This is the fifth time in past several days the commonwealth has reported more than 10,000 new daily COVID-19 cases, with the total number of positive cases at 422,039 statewide.

Under the order’s guidelines, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Religious institutions are excluded from this during services, but people are encouraged to find other methods of worship.

Outdoor gatherings with more than 50 people and indoor activities at fitness facilities and gyms are also prohibited.

 Operation of outdoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes are permitted to continue as long as participants wear face coverings and maintain physical distance, according to the release.

Collegiate and professional sports can continue if they abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 guidance, but spectators are prohibited from attending sports activities in person.

All K-12 school sports will be put on pause.

In addition to athletics, school extracurricular activities like musical ensembles, plays and clubs are suspended but may continue virtually.

Under the guidelines, in-person businesses can only operate at 50 percent of their maximum capacity. Businesses operating at smaller capacities due to existing orders should continue at their current limited capacity, according to the release.   

All in-person entertainment businesses, like museums and movie theaters, must close operations, according to the release. 

While all indoor dining is prohibited, outdoor dining, takeout food and takeout alcohol sales can continue but will be subject to state restrictions or limitations.

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