And Limited Seating Capacity To 25% In Restaurants
It should be sad and troubling for all Pennsylvanians that value freedom when one man and one transgendered man with the power of the state behind them can compel every bar in Pennsylvania to close indefinitely based solely on their “sense”.
“It wouldn’t make sense to wait for data to prove that gathering in bars is unsafe statewide.” PA Gov. Tom Wolf
“In Every Region Of The State”
On July 21, Wolf defending his unilateral order to close every bar in Pennsylvania said, “We have the data… that “in every region of the state has seen an uptick in cases” is “where people are coming together… where they’re drinking. That’s bars.” But Wolf was not going to tell us “exactly which bars… we’re not going to do that.”
On August 17, Wolf now says his unilateral decision to close every bar in Pennsylvania was based on reports from “Allegheny County that contact tracing there had shown the spread of COVID-19, particularly among younger adults, was being fueled by gatherings in bars.” But wait a minute as Wolf added he did not wait for any data adding that “It wouldn’t make sense to wait for data to prove that gathering in bars is unsafe statewide.”
On July 22, 2020 FOX43 reported:
The DOH also cited data from the Allegheny County Health Department from late June as strong evidence to support the state’s mitigation efforts.
The county health department could not provide FOX43 with specific numbers, such as how many of the new cases were patrons or employees of the restaurants and bars.
A county health department spokesperson told FOX43 “you’re asking for some old details as there are daily updates.” However, the Wolf Administration is using these “old” details as support for new COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
July 21, 2020
Wolf was also asked about the idea of providing specific examples of contact tracing that has tied a sizable number of new confirmed coronavirus cases to bars and restaurants. He said that the state does have that information but is not releasing it on a bar-by-bar basis
“Dr. Levine said every region of the [state],… in every region of the state has seen an uptick in cases,… coming from places where people are coming together… where they’re drinking. That’s bars.”
“We can’t tell you, I mean, that has been done, where a bar has been identified, and that has created all kinds of problems. I think that was South Korea did that. We don’t want to do that. We think that’s inappropriate. We have the data, we know this is where the problem is. Are we going to tell you exactly which bars? No, we’re not going to do that.”
August 17, 2020
Wolf said Monday the state’s move to close bars that don’t sell food and limit other eateries to 25% of their normal occupancy was derived from reports from Allegheny County…
By John Finnerty/CNHI State Reporter August 17, 2020
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday defended his move to close bars and restrict occupancy limits in restaurants, along with his call for school sports to be postponed until January. Republican lawmakers have become increasingly critical of Wolf’s decisions as they push to reopen the economy and get schools reopened closer to the way they were before the pandemic led to a statewide school shutdown.
Wolf said Monday the state’s move to close bars that don’t sell food and limit other eateries to 25% of their normal occupancy was derived from reports from Allegheny County that contact tracing there had shown the spread of COVID-19, particularly among younger adults, was being fueled by gatherings in bars.
“It seems to be working,” Wolf said, adding that it wouldn’t make sense to wait for data to prove that gathering in bars is unsafe statewide. “If you act after things take off, it’s too late,” he said.
State Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette County, announced last week he’s seeking support for legislation that would lift the governor’s restrictions on bars and restaurants.
“Overwhelmingly, businesses in this industry have been working hard and in good faith to observe and follow all the various guidelines and regulations issued by the Governor, the Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board,” Stefano said. “From the beginning, they recognized the need to play a role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and followed health protocols and guidelines to keep their establishments and customers safe. Despite making every conceivable effort to operate safely, they have faced increasingly burdensome restrictions that are putting many restaurants and bars out of business and costing jobs.”
Stefano’s legislation, which has not been introduced, would replace the 25% occupancy cap with a requirement that patrons be separated by six-feet or a barrier. Stefano’s legislation would also remove a requirement now in place that mandates patrons to purchase food to get an alcoholic beverage.
Wolf has vetoed similar bills aimed at more quickly reopening the state’s economy.
The Department of Health on Friday announced that close to half of the 1,499 people who told contact tracers whether they’d visited a business in the two weeks before they tested positive for COVID-19, said they had visited restaurants. Along with the 47% of respondents who said they’d been in restaurants, 24% said they’d been in bars, according to the Department of Health.
Those interviews were conducted between July 13 and Aug. 11. Wolf issued his order closing bars that don’t sell food and limiting business in other restaurants on July 15.
However, more than half of the 24,468 people who were interviewed by contact tracers declined to answer the question about whether they’d recently visited any businesses. About 10,000 people told contact tracers they hadn’t visited any businesses in the period before they tested for coronavirus.
Republicans have also ramped up their criticism of Wolf’s “strong recommendation” that high school sports be postponed until January.
Lawmakers said Monday the Wolf Administration hasn’t provided data quantifying how the governor determined it’s not safe to allow interscholastic sports in the fall.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, the Wolf administration has been making decisions that impact the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Pennsylvanians without involving the people’s representatives in the legislature and without concern for the unintended consequences of wide-ranging and inconsistent orders, guidance, and recommendations,” House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County said. “We now know that the administration has made the unilateral decision to strongly recommend the cancellation of fall sports without the Department of Health having any corresponding data to justify their decision.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Associaton board has scheduled a vote for Friday on whether to proceed with sports or follow Wolf’s recommendation.
Lawmakers in both chambers will be focusing on the issue before then though. The General Assembly’s Athletic Oversight Committee is holding a hearing on the controversy over allowing school sports to take place Tuesday morning.
The House education committee has a vote scheduled for Thursday on legislation that would explicitly allow local school districts to decide whether to offer sports and allow students to take another year of high school if they can’t play sports.
House Bill 2787, would allow Pennsylvania’s local school districts to make decisions regarding fall sports and activities.
House Bill 2788, will allow students and families to have the option to continue the student’s education and extracurricular activities for an additional year to make up for the loss of instruction and competition during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.
“Sports and extracurricular activities are a huge part of every student’s academic career and are vital for their mental and social development. Postponing fall sports for our students will create more harm than good,” said state Rep. Curt Sonney, R-Erie County, the chairman of the House education committee. “Students need to be in school and be involved in school activities. That’s why we are acting quickly to get these bills moved through committee,” he said.