New mandates go into effect Saturday

HARRISBURG—As of Saturday, all restaurants across Pennsylvania will be closed for dine-in, after a new mandate goes into effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine implored Pennsylvanians to take the next three weeks and stand united against the virus by adhering to existing mitigation orders and stricter efforts announced today.


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.  

Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue, subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.

Indoor gatherings and events

Indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited. 

Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of congregate worship are specifically excluded from the limitations during religious services, however those institutions are strongly encouraged to find alternative methods for worship.

Outdoor gatherings and events

Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons are prohibited.

Gyms and fitness facilities

Indoor operations at gyms and fitness facilities are prohibited.

Outdoor facilities and outdoor classes can continue, but all participants must wear face coverings in accordance with DOH guidelines.

Entertainment industry

All in-person businesses in the entertainment industry serving the public within a building or indoor defined area, including, but not limited to, theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys, private clubs, and all other similar entertainment, recreational or social facilities, are prohibited from operation.  

Retail and other consumer-driven businesses

All in-person businesses serving the public may only operate at up to 50% of the maximum capacity stated on the applicable certificate of occupancy, except as limited by existing orders to a smaller capacity limit.

In-person extracurricular school activities and youth sports

Voluntary activities sponsored or approved by a school entity’s governing body or administration are suspended, but these extracurricular activities may be held virtually. This includes, but is not limited to, attendance at or participation in activities such musical ensembles, school plays, student council, clubs, and school dances.

All sports at K-12 public schools, nonpublic schools, private schools and club, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are paused.

The Pennsylvania Principals Association is recommending a delay to the start of the winter sports season.

Professional and collegiate sports

Professional or collegiate sports activities may continue in accordance with guidance from the CDC and the Department of Health.

Spectators may not attend such sports activities in person. 

“Over the last several weeks, it’s become clear we need to take more mitigation efforts … we need to slow the spread right now in order to save lives,” Wolf said. “These measures are temporary COVID-19 protective mitigation measures effective Dec. 12 at 12:01 a.m. and expiring Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 at 8 a.m.

“With these measures in place, I hope we accomplish 3 goals: Stop the spread of the virus;

keep hospitals and healthcare workers from becoming overwhelmed; and help Pennsylvania get through the holiday season and closer to widely available vaccine,” Wolf added.

The new mandates come after several days of rising numbers statewide.

“Each of the last two days we have reported the highest number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic,” Levine said. “In the past week, we have reported close to 1,100 new deaths from COVID-19 across Pennsylvania. The virus continues to strain our health care systems and the dramatic rise in cases among all age groups, including among school-age children, is alarming. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 37,500 cases among children age 5 to 18, yet 9,500 of those cases occurred in the past two weeks.”

There were 11,972 new confirmed cases of COVID on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 457,289.

Levine said as of Thursday, 5,877 people are hospitalized due to the virus and 1,218 of them are in the intensive care unit, with 675 patients statewide on a ventilator.

Wolf, who tested positive Tuesday during a routine test, is in isolation at home and following CDC and Pa DOH guidelines, he said. “I’m feeling well and continuing to follow all my duties. My most recent test is negative.”

 He said he hopes residents will step up to the plate and do their part to prevent further infections.

“For the next three weeks please, stand with me and unite against COVID,” Wolf said. “I’m asking we work together to turn the tide of this surge. By working together to stop the spread, we will be saving lives.