Consumption Of Alcohol To Be Banned At Bars And Restaurants In Allegheny County

Mixed drink at a bar
Photo credit Getty
By NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has announced new restrictions around the area after two days of record-breaking COVID-19 tests.

Bars are going being ordered closed and restaurants will no longer be able to serve alcohol.

Bars that serve food will continue to be able to offer dine-in services at 50 percent capacity.

Those orders go into effect at 5 p.m. on June 30.

“Drinking alcohol in these settings invites to congregate and the six feet we’re supposed to keep from one another disappears,” said Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen. “When people drink alcohol they tend to lose inhibition, talk louder, get closer to one another and can’t adhere to the physically distancing and mask recommendations.”

COVID UPDATE: @HealthAllegheny announces bars will close in #Pittsburgh & @Allegheny_Co.The Health Department is reporting the largest number of cases are from visits to our South Side & Oakland neighborhoods. pic.twitter.com/vsbZKZVyrS

— City of Pittsburgh (@CityPGH) June 28, 2020

In addition, Dr. Bogen has ordered that masks be worn in all businesses and can only be taken off when sitting at a table to eat.

Also Dr. Bogen is recommending everyone who travels out to state to quarantine for 14 days after returning to help reduce spread.

Dr. Bogen is not recommending another complete shutdown order. She says in March and April the virus was new and there was lack of treatment, testing, PPE but now those are available.

“We no longer need the sledgehammer instead we need a strategic and selective approach to identify the sources of the infections and shut them down and limit visits to these locations or events,” said Dr. Bogen.

Fitzgerald says data has shown that a rise in cases is largely due to people visiting bars and traveling out of the area.

More people have tested positive in the past two days, than have in the past two weeks.

While numbers are rising sharply, hospitalizations and deaths still remain low but those usually lag a week or so behind, so officials are keeping a close eye on those numbers.

For the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, Allegheny County has the highest number of positive cases in the state of Pennsylvania.

96 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday with 393 cases being confirmed in the past seven days.

Dr. Debra Bogen says those who are traveling outside of the area and attending bars and restaurants are testing positive as well as those who are attending local bars and family gatherings.

Dr. Bogen adds that she is “very concerned” with the spike in cases because the majority of new coronavirus cases are in younger people who for the most part, show little or no symptoms of COVID-19 and are unwittingly spreading it to more vulnerable populations.

She adds most cases are a result of community spread and those cases have spiked after hardly any over the past few months.

Governor Tom Wolf issued the following statement following the county's announcement:

 

“I commend Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Health Department Director Dr. Debra Brogan for the decision to shut down bars and restaurants for on-premises alcohol sales in Allegheny County effective June 30. 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. We cannot become complacent in practicing the measures we know can protect everyone from the spread of this very contagious virus.

“It is my hope that swift action on the part of the county results in swift containment and the return to an increased commitment to protect all residents, especially those most vulnerable to COVID-19, and that this action sets an example for the rest of the state to continue to follow mitigation efforts put in place to protect lives and livelihoods.

“Mitigation efforts statewide include the requirement to wear a mask when in businesses, following occupancy limits in all businesses and gatherings, practicing social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing surfaces – these simple practices can make a huge difference in protecting ourselves, our seniors, our neighbors and our communities. Even if you believe you will not get sick, you can, and you can spread the virus to someone who may not be able to recover as easily.”

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