“When we hit our peak on April 9, we had nearly 2,000 new cases that day with other days’ cases hovering around 1,000. Medical experts looking at the trajectory we are on now are projecting that this new surge could soon eclipse the April peak. With our rapid case increases we need to act again now,” Wolf, a Democrat, said in a news conference on Wednesday.
The governor’s new orders include reducing the indoor dining capacity to 25 percent in restaurants, limiting on-premises alcohol sales, limiting outdoor gatherings to 250 people, and limiting indoor gatherings to 25 people. It will also ask businesses to allow people to work from home whenever possible.
The restrictions went into effect at midnight on Thursday.
📢 New statewide #COVID19 restrictions (effective 7/16/20):
▪️ indoor dining: reduced to 25% capacity
▪️ bars: open for sit-down meals at tables, no bar service
▪️ gatherings: <25 people indoor, <250 people outdoor
▪️ telework: mandated (if possible)
ℹ️: https://t.co/1Y07qMyas9 pic.twitter.com/jU0dENHpej
— PA Department of Health (@PAHealthDept) July 15, 2020
“This is what we have to do. It may feel like a step backwards, but it isn’t. It’s just a reminder that we need to get back on the course of mask wearing, social distancing and successfully mitigating COVID-19,” Wolf said.
Wolf stressed that since Pennsylvania is at a “tipping point,” officials don’t want the state to “become Florida.” Florida has seen a large surge in cases in recent weeks.
“We don’t want to become Texas. We don’t want to become Arizona. We have got to act now,” he said, referring to other states that have seen high cases of the virus. California is another state that has reported a significant increase in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases in recent days, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to implement more restrictions on businesses earlier in the week.
The governor blamed careless actions by bar and restaurant patrons for a surge in cases.
“They are annoyingly spreading, or annoyingly picking up, the virus,” Wolf told reporters. “This carelessness has resulted in pockets of super-spreading.”
The state Health Department reported 994 new positive virus cases Wednesday, bringing the total to about 97,000. Twenty-six new deaths have been reported.
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) and other GOP members said the new restrictions will be devastating for the state’s economy.
“Gov. Wolf’s decision today will close the doors of some small businesses forever and devastate the livelihoods of so many Pennsylvanians who were just beginning to feel hopeful for the future,” Benninghoff wrote in a news release.