Wolf to lift bar, alcohol restrictions and increase capacity allowances

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Gov. Tom Wolf speaks to media during a visit to Family First Health in York City, Thursday, March 11, 2021. Gov. Wolf praised the health center for their diligence during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for their efforts to get the COVID-19 vaccine to the members of the eligible and sometimes vulnerable members of the community. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday announced upcoming relief for the battered bar and restaurant industry, which includes allowing bar service to resume and increasing occupancy limits.

The updated guidelines will go into effect on Sunday, April 4, Wolf said in a news release. Citing the state's progress in tamping down COVID-19 cases and deaths, Wolf also announced that food purchases will no longer be necessary for alcohol services.

In addition, the curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted.

"The number of people getting vaccinated increases daily, and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel," Wolf said in a statement. "It's time to allow our restaurants, bars and other service businesses to get back to more normal operations.”

More:York County has 137 new COVID-19 cases over two-day period

The governor also updated gathering restrictions for the second time in as many weeks. 

The indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75% if restaurants self-certify, meaning they agree to abide by the state's mitigation guidelines. Details of the guidelines can be found at www.pa.gov/covid/business-unites/certify-my-restaurant/. 

The capacity for others businesses, such as gyms, casinos and theaters, will also have their capacities raised to 75%, Wolf said.

In a statement that quickly followed Wolf's announcement, the House Republican Caucus called the decision welcome — but far too late.

"It has not come soon enough and does not go far enough to help Pennsylvania’s workers, small businesses and hospitality industry recover from a year’s worth of unprecedented Wolf administration-mandated shutdowns,' said caucus spokesperson Jason Gottesman.

Wolf's updated guidelines will also allow indoor events to allow for 25% of their maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. The capacity limits for outdoor events will be raised to 50%.

"Ultimately the COVID-19 virus sets the timetable," House Democratic Caucus spokesperson Bill Patton saidin a statement. "Our governor is being prudent with decisions that carry large impacts. It’s the right approach."

As of Monday, there were 37,166 COVID-19 cases and 742 deaths linked to the disease reported in York County.

Statewide, there were 967,598 cases and 24,587 deaths.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.