PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Faced with a surge in coronavirus cases, the Allegheny County moved quickly last week to shutdown in-person operations and indoor seating at restaurants and bars. Now, as a potential lifeline to those businesses, they are loosening some restrictions.
The Allegheny County Health Department issued a new two-week order that loosens some restrictions, like allowing outdoor dining and drinking. The order also limits gatherings to no more than 25 people inside and 50 outside.
This new order rescinds the other two recently issued — one banning the on-site consumption of alcohol and the other shutting down bars and restaurants except for takeout. It takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
CLICK HERE: READ THE FULL ORDER
Indoor areas must be close except to through-traffic, and customers at “non-bar seating” outside can be served if they’re seated.
Customers are limited to three drinks, and outdoor seating is permitted until 11 p.m. Take-out is allowed to continue after then.
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“Outdoor dining isn’t as dangerous,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
The county health department says mostly younger vacationers returning from hotspot beaches spread the virus in crowded bars. The county will watch for any impacts on case numbers and review the policy after two weeks.
“What we’re trying to do is be strategic in stopping activities that spread the virus and allowing activities that seem to be safe,” says Fitzgerald.
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After being closed for the past week, Joe Tambellini is throwing out food and is now preparing to reopen, but while he may soon able to serve people on his six tables outside, his 24 indoor tables must remain off-limits to the public.
“I call this takeout on steroids,” he says. “You get to serve a couple of people outside. It’s not enough to survive.”
Tambellini says without indoor dining, restaurants like his can’t make it. And while he gives the county credit for trying, he says restaurants need more help.
Awaiting Alle. Co. Health Dept. order allowing outdoor dining and alcoholic drinks. Owner Joe Tambellini says it won't be enough to save restaurants. Live reports coming up. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/i0dUTKFnYz
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) July 8, 2020
“We’re at the end of the rope. This is it. We don’t figure this out and quickly, it’s going to be annihilation,” he says.
The owner of Walter’s Southern Kitchen says they would have gone backward, again, if it weren’t for Wednesday’s order.
“We’re trying to save our lives here and feed our families, and it’s just a very difficult time,” said owner Joel Bolden.
The county Department of Health says they have to protect the community’s health and safety. Bolden agrees but says they’re essential to the community too.
Rivers Casino is allowed to reopen on Friday, but no alcohol can be served. Masks must also be worn.
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