Pennsylvania is easing up on coronavirus restrictions the day before the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship.
With COVID-19 cases declining and vaccination rates climbing, Gov. Tom Wolf announced this week that the state would be lifting some restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, as well as increased gathering limits in Pennsylvania.
Effective April 4 (Easter Sunday) restaurants can resume bar service, alcohol service will be allowed without a food purchase and the curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted. The indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75% for those restaurants currently self-certified and those that undergo the self-certification process, which involves agreeing to strictly comply to all public health safety guidelines and orders.
The NCAA final is scheduled for April 5 in Indianapolis. March Madness is always one of the top events for sports betting in PA.
Capacity at 75% for other businesses also will be increased including moving personal services facilities, gyms and entertainment facilities (casinos, theatres, malls). Casinos had been closed at times for months since the pandemic began last March. After the most-recent closures, they were allowed to reopen Jan. 4 with 50% capacity limits in place.
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The first casino shutdown took place on March 17 when all 13 casinos were closed. The lockdown lasted for 126 days until July 17, when Rivers Casino Philadelphia resumed operations. Then came the December shutdown.
Under Wolf’s new order this week, mask-wearing and social distancing requirements, including 6 feet between diners, will still apply.
Wolf also announced revised maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 25% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size, and maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events to allow for 50% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size.
“Pennsylvanians have stepped up and done their part of help curb the spread of COVID-19,” Wolf said in a news release. “Our case counts continue to go down, hospitalizations are declining, and the percent positivity rate gets lower every week – all very positive signs. The number of people getting vaccinated increases daily and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time to allow our restaurants, bars and other service businesses to get back to more normal operations.”
He also cautioned that mask-wearing, social distancing and business adherence to all safety orders are still imperative.
“We’ve come so far and now is not the time to stop the safety measures we have in place to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Wolf said. “Keep wearing a mask, social distancing, and, please, get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”