In a press release Sunday, Allegheny County officials announced new mitigation measures in response to the county’s recent surge in new cases of coronavirus.
The measures include additional mask guidelines and the inability of customers to consume alcohol on-site in bars, restaurants, and similar facilities.
Allegheny County Health Department officials said they are finalizing an order that will take effect at 5 pm on June 30.
The order will restrict on-site alcohol consumption at any business in the county, according to the statement.
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The order also requires the use of masks at all companies, in accordance with state guidelines. However, the county also ordered the use of masks even when sitting. Customers can only remove the mask when they eat or drink, according to the statement.
Authorities said any reported violations will be investigated. Companies that are in violation will be ordered closed for a minimum of one week.
According to the statement, restaurants should also impose physical distance by prioritizing outdoor seating and limiting occupancy to 50 percent of the maximum fire code set.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Allegheny County led Pennsylvania in new COVID-19 cases on Sunday for the first time since cases were confirmed in the state.
“We are going in the wrong direction,” Fitzgerald said. “While most residents and businesses have followed the rules, these mitigation requirements and measures address the critical points that have been identified during case investigations. These are severe steps, but now we have to take steps to limit the spread of the community that endangers those who are elderly, high risk, or immunocompromised. ”
TribLive reported that authorities said the recent increase was attributed to reports of county residents traveling across the country, including Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Houston, Nashville and various cities in Florida.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf expressed his support for Allegheny’s health officials in a press release on Sunday afternoon.
“This was the right move to work to stop the recent surge in COVID-19 cases on their way and to remind all residents and businesses that the best defense we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep safe Pennsylvanians are continuing to follow the requirement to wear masks, practice social distancing and follow safety guidelines even and especially during the green phase of reopening, “Wolf said.” We cannot be accommodating in practicing the measures we know can protect everyone from the spread of this highly contagious virus. “
Dr. Debera Bogen, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department, made the following recommendations to residents:
- Consider rescheduling, changing, or postponing vacation and travel plans.
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with others.
- Wear a mask even if you don’t need to.
- Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer, especially in public places or before eating or drinking.
Bogen is also recommending a 14-day quarantine for anyone in the area traveling out of state, particularly those who can travel to “hot spots”, including the Carolina, Florida and Texas coast.