Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Pennsylvania, US, impose new business restrictions July 16 following an increase in COVID-19 activity.

  • Alert Begins: 16 Jul 2020 03:06 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 27 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Pennsylvania (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel restrictions, business disruptions

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued orders to restrict certain business operations starting July 16, to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the new directives, restaurants and bars can offer indoor services only at 25-percent capacity or a maximum of 25 people, including staff. All clients must be seated.

Additionally, all nightclubs must close, and indoor events of more than 25 people and outdoor events of more than 250 people are banned. All businesses that are able must allow employees to work from home. Gyms and fitness centers may continue operating indoors but must prioritize outdoor fitness activities.

Other restrictions may continue under the stipulations of Phase Green of the commonwealth's economic recovery plan. Retail stores can operate at 75-percent capacity; personal care businesses and indoor entertainment venues may operate at 50-percent capacity. Local authorities have the authority to tighten restrictions if they consider it necessary. Additional local business restrictions and limitations on public gatherings remain in force in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties.

All residents and visitors must wear facemasks in indoor public locations, as well as outdoor settings, whenever social distancing measures are not possible. All businesses open for in-person services must comply with strict mandates aimed at preventing the further spread of COVID-19, including limitations on operating capacity, the use of face coverings or other personal protective equipment, and enforcement of social distancing guidelines, among other things. Most outdoor recreational facilities can operate. Essential businesses and services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and fuel stations, have not been subject to mandatory COVID-19-related closures.

Authorities in Pennsylvania have also issued guidelines to restrict travel into the commonwealth. As of July 16, officials recommend anyone traveling from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, or Utah to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The list of states may change in the coming days, depending on COVID-19 activity.

Business disruptions remain likely. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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