Human Resources, OSHA, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Clarifies Roll-back Requirements

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe recently clarified the new roll-backs for businesses in the state. Read on…

Via https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2020/07/new-pa-coronavirus-restrictions-related-to-indoor-capacities-does-not-apply-to-religious-institutions-wolf.html

Pennsylvania’s new coronavirus mitigation restrictions that, in part, limit indoor gatherings to 25 people or less will not apply to religious institutions.

Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Department Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine were asked and answered that question on Wednesday, the same day the pair signed an order that limits numerous things as fears begin to mount that another COVID-19 surge is on the horizon.

For background, a portion of the new order reads as follows:

“Events and gatherings must adhere to these gathering limitations:

    • Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
    • Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
    • The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.”

In response, a reporter on hand at the in-person briefing inside of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency asked the following question when Levine was at the podium:

“Does the 25-person indoor limit apply to religious institutions?”

“No,” Levine responded, before turning to Wolf, who also said, “no.”

The order does drop indoor dining capacity from 50 percent of a retail foodservice businesses’ occupancy to 25 percent, and also forbids alcohol sales for on-site consumption unless they are accompanied by a food sale. Additionally, service at the bar is prohibited, and bars can only operate if they serve dine-in meals.

Outdoor bars may also not operate, though they can offer outside dining services if tables do not backup against or face the bar and/or other service areas.

Music and night clubs must also close under the new order, and while gyms can still allow customers to workout inside, they are encouraged to offer as many outdoor activities as they can.

You can read the full text of the order below. It is being put into effect, Wolf said, because of three problem areas. According to Wolf, one is related to a lack of compliance with the state’s mask-order mandate at many bars and restaurants, while the other two are related to out-of-state travel and the increased number of confirmed coronavirus cases in states like Florida and Arizona, among other places.

Pennsylvania continued a trend on Wednesday of reporting nearly 1,000 new confirmed cases.

“Together these three catalysts have turned our downward trend into an alarming escalation, and we’re already at a tipping point where we really have to act,” Wolf said.

“We don’t want to become Florida, [don’t] want to become Texas, we don’t want to become Arizona. We have got to act now.”

Added Levine:

“We know what will happen if we wait until cases rise exponentially before taking action. The numbers would continue to increase in our entire state. We then [would] potentially have to quarantine.

“By acting now, and making these specific and targeted mitigation efforts statewide, we can get ahead of the curve and ensure that not only our hospitals and health care system be available to patients, but the economy will survive, while still saving lives.”

You can read the order in its entirety and other details below, courtesy of a Wolf administration press release:

Bars and Restaurants

All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by the order, including:

    • Prohibition from conducting operations unless the facility offers sit-down, dine-in meals or is serving take-out sales of alcoholic beverages. All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.
    • Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal. 
    • Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.
    • Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e. tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
    • Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.          
    • Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a discrete indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.


    • All nightclubs, as defined by the Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, are prohibited from conducting operations.

Other events and gatherings

Events and gatherings must adhere to these gathering limitations:

    • Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
    • Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
    • The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.


    • Unless not possible, all businesses are required to conduct their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which they do business.
    • Where telework is not possible, employees may conduct in-person business operations, provided that the businesses fully comply with all substantive aspects of the business safety order, the worker safety order, and the masking order.

Gyms and fitness facilities

    • All gyms and fitness facilities, while permitted to continue indoor operations, are directed to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. All activities must follow masking requirements as provided by the July 1 order, and must provide for social distancing requirements of persons being at least 6 feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to gatherings. 


Businesses and individuals in violation of these orders, issued pursuant to the authority granted to the Governor and the Secretary of Health under the law, including the Pennsylvania Disease Control and Prevention Law, could be subject to fines, business closure or other applicable enforcement measures.

Beginning with a spike in cases in Allegheny County in late June, Pennsylvania has seen cases continue to rise there and in other southwest counties, along with additional select counties in the state.

The state has identified three catalysts for case increases:

    • First, some Pennsylvanians have been ignoring mask-wearing requirements and social distancing when they are visiting Pennsylvania bars and restaurants. There they are unknowingly spreading or picking up the virus.
    • Second is out-of-state travel. Both by Pennsylvanians returning from travel to hotspot states, and travelers visiting our commonwealth from those hotspots.
    • And third, a lack of national coordination has resulted in states in the south and west not committing to social distancing.


Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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