At 4 p.m. today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (who himself has tested positive for COVID) and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine issued new, “limited-time”, targeted COVID mitigation orders. The orders hit the franchise industry hard. About the only silver-lining is that, unlike the indefinite restrictions imposed last spring, these new restrictions have a specific time period:  from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 12, 2020, until 8:00 a.m. on Monday, January 4, 2021.

The following are the changes resulting from the new orders:

  • All in-person dining in the retail food services industry–including bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events–is prohibited.
    • Outdoor dining, take-out food service and take-out alcohol sales, however, may continue.
  • All in-person businesses are limited to 50% of maximum legal occupancy, unless limited to a smaller number by other order.
  • All indoor gyms and fitness facilities are prohibited from operating.
    • Outdoor operations may continue, subject to masking and social distancing rules.
  • All indoor entertainment venues must close, including all theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys, private clubs and similar facilities.
  • Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 persons.
    • Houses of Worship during religious services are exempt.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 persons.
  • All sports and extracurricular activities at the high school level and below, including club sports, are suspended.
    • The high school and youth sports suspension includes practice.
  • Professional and collegiate sports may continue.
    • However, no spectators may attend.

Given the rising case counts in Pennsylvania, I appreciate these orders. That said, it doesn’t make them any more palatable. Stay safe out there!