PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Faced with a surge in coronavirus cases, Allegheny County moved quickly last week to close in-person operations and indoor seating at restaurants and bars. Now, as a potential lifeguard for those companies, they are loosening some restrictions.
The Allegheny County Health Department has issued a new two-week order that loosens some restrictions, such as allowing eating and drinking outdoors. The order also limits meetings to no more than 25 people inside and 50 people outside.
This new order terminates the other two recently issued, one that prohibits on-site alcohol consumption and the other that closes bars and restaurants, except for take-away. It takes effect at 12:01 am on Friday.
CLICK HERE: READ THE FULL ORDER
Interior areas must be closed, except for traffic, and customers who are “no bar” outdoors can be served if they are seated.
Customers are limited to three drinks, and outdoor seating is permitted until 11pm. The takeaway can continue after that.
LOOK: Pam Surano of KDKA reports live
“Eating outdoors is not that dangerous,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
The county health department says that most younger vacationers returning from popular beaches spread the virus in crowded bars. The county will note any impact on case numbers and will review the policy after two weeks.
“What we are trying to do is be strategic to stop activities that spread the virus and allow activities that appear to be safe,” says Fitzgerald.
After being closed for the past week, Joe Tambellini is throwing away food and is now preparing to reopen, but while he will soon be able to serve people at his six tables outside, his 24 tables inside should remain out of public reach.
“I call this takeout on steroids,” he says. “You can serve a couple of people outside. It is not enough to survive. “
Tambellini says that without eating indoors, restaurants like his can’t do it. And while he credits the county for trying, he says restaurants need more help.
Waiting for Alle. Co. Department of Health order allowing cookouts and alcoholic beverages. Owner Joe Tambellini says it won’t be enough to save restaurants. Live reports to come. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/i0dUTKFnYz
– Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) July 8, 2020
“We are at the end of the rope. That’s it. We don’t solve this and quickly, it will be annihilation, ”he says.
The owner of Walter’s Southern Kitchen says they would have backed down, if not for Wednesday’s order.
“We are trying to save our lives here and feed our families, and it is a very difficult time,” said owner Joel Bolden.
The county Health Department says they must protect the health and safety of the community. Bolden agrees, but says they are also essential to the community.
Rivers Casino may reopen on Friday, but alcohol cannot be served. Masks should also be worn.
More information on the coronavirus pandemic: