Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine announced the orders on December 10, calling the restrictions “Pennsylvania on Pause.” Among other provisions, the new orders prohibit all in-person dining and alcohol sales, as well as limiting other in-person business operations. These restrictions will remain in place until at least January 4, 2021.
Under Governor Wolf’s Order:
“All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events is prohibited.”
The Secretary of Health issued an accompanying Order, citing recent studies indicating indoor dining as a significant factor in the spread of the virus. Philadelphia enacted similar restrictions on November 16, 2020.
Other provisions of the December 10, “Limited Time Mitigation Orders” include, but are not limited to:
A new FAQ is available to help explain the new orders. There is no waiver process available and the new orders apply to all businesses other than health care providers. Telework remains mandatory unless impossible. The FAQ also addresses enforcement of the new Orders:
It is not immediately clear how the new orders will impact the recent limits on civil liability for businesses, announced on November 23, 2020. Governor Wolf signed that Order to limit liability for businesses regarding certain claims that could arise while enforcing masking requirements.
Pennsylvania business owners and employers may need to revisit their reopening policies and procedures. Existing plans may require modification to ensure continued compliance. It is important to note the new restrictions could be expanded or extended depending on the spread of the virus.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Patrick McKnight is an associate in the Litigation Department at Klehr Harrison.