In a Sunday press release, officials in Allegheny County announced new mitigation measures in response to the recent increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus in the county.
The measures include additional guidance on masks and the inability of customers to consume alcohol on the premises in bars, restaurants and similar establishments.
Allegheny County health department officials said they were finalizing a prescription that will take effect at 5 p.m. on June 30.
The order will restrict local alcohol consumption at all businesses in the county, the statement said.
The ordinance also requires masks to be worn in all businesses, in accordance with state guidelines. However, the county has also ordered the use of even seated masks. Customers can only remove the mask by eating or drinking, the statement said.
Authorities have said that any reported violation will be investigated. Businesses found to be in violation will be closed for at least one week.
According to the press release, restaurants will also have to impose a physical distance while prioritizing outside seating and limiting occupancy to 50 percent of the maximum fire code shown.
County director Rich Fitzgerald said Allegheny County led Pennsylvania in new COVID-19 cases on Sunday for the first time since the cases were confirmed in the state.
“We are going in the wrong direction,” said Fitzgerald. “While most residents and businesses have followed the rules, these requirements and mitigation measures address the hot spots that were identified during the case investigations. These are tough steps, but we must take action now to limit the spread in the community that endangers the elderly, high-risk or immunocompromised. “
TribLive reported that officials said the recent push had been attributed to reports of county residents traveling across the country, including Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Houston, Nashville and several cities in Florida.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf expressed support for Allegheny health officials in a press release Sunday afternoon.
“It was the right decision to work to stop the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and remind all residents and businesses that the best defense we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep Pennsylvanians safe is to continue to follow the requirement to wear a mask, to practice social distancing and to follow safety instructions, even and especially during the green phase of reopening, “said Wolf. “We cannot be complacent in doing what we know can protect everyone from the spread of this highly contagious virus.”
Allegheny County Director of Health, Dr. Debera Bogen, made the following recommendations to residents:
- Consider postponing, modifying or postponing travel and vacation plans.
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with others.
- Wear a mask even if it is not necessary.
- Wash your hands frequently and use a hand sanitizer, especially in public places or before eating or drinking.
Bogen also recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone in the area who travels out of state, especially those who can go to “hot spots”, including the coast of Carolina, Florida and Texas.