In a Sunday press release, Allegheny County officials announced new mitigation measures in response to the county’s recent increase in new coronavirus cases.
The measures include additional mask guidelines and the inability for customers to consume alcohol on-site at bars, restaurants and similar facilities.
Allegheny County Health Department officials said they are finalizing an order which will take effect at 5 p.m. June 30.
The order will restrict on-site alcohol consumption at any business in the county, according to the release.
The order also requires the wearing of masks in all businesses, consistent with state guidelines. However, the county additionally ordered the use of masks even when seated. Customers may only remove the mask when eating or drinking, according to the release.
Officials said any reported violations will be investigated. Businesses found to be in violation will be ordered to be closed for a minimum of a week.
According to the release, restaurants will also need to enforce physical distancing while prioritizing outdoor seating and limit occupancy to 50 percent of the stated fire code maximum.
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’re going the wrong direction,” Fitzgerald said. “While most resident and businesses have been following the rules, these requirements and mitigation measures address the hot spots that have been identified during case investigations. These are severe steps, but we have to take steps now to limit the community spread that endangers those who are older, high-risk or otherwise immunocompromised.”
TribLive reported that officials said the recent surge has been attributed to reports of county residents traveling across the country included Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Houston, Nashville and multiple cities in Florida.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf voiced his support for Allegheny health officials in a press release Sunday afternoon.
“This was the right move to work to stop the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in its tracks and to remind all residents and businesses that the best defense we have in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping Pennsylvanians safe is to continue to follow the mask-wearing requirement, practice social distancing, and follow safety guidelines even and especially during the green phase of reopening,” Wolf said. “We cannot become complacent in practicing the measures we know can protect everyone from the spread of this very contagious virus.”
Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debera Bogen gave the following recommendations to residents:
- Consider rescheduling, changing or postponing travel and vacation plans.
- Avoid crowded locations and close contact with others.
- Wear a mask even if not required.
- Frequently wash hands and use hand sanitizer, especially when in public places or before eating or drinking.
Bogen is also recommending a 14-day quarantine for anyone in the area who is traveling out of state, particularly those who may travel to “hot spots” including Coastal Carolina, Florida and Texas.