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Gov. Wolf Orders Bars, Restaurants To Close In Allegheny County

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Pork belly grilled cheese from Josephine's Toast sits alongside Aubergine Bistro's fresh pasta and meatballs at Smallman Galley on Sept. 8, 2016

All bars and restaurants in Allegheny County have been ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf to close dine-in facilities for at least two weeks starting Monday morning, to encourage social distancing, which slows the spread of coronavirus. 

Restaurants are encouraged to stay open to provide food delivery and pick-up, but customers are not allowed to dine inside the facilities. 

The governor's order comes after officials announced the county’s first cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, during which many people visited bars or held parties to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

"I understand that this is disruptive to businesses as well as patrons who just want to enjoy themselves, but in the best interest of individuals and families in the mitigation counties, we must take this step," said Wolf in a Sunday evening press release.

Wolf's order also applies to bars and restaurants in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. The governors of Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and California have ordered all the bars and restaurants in those states to close too. 

Allegheny County has also urged all non-essential businesses to close for two weeks. These include, but are not limited to, childcare and senior centers, salons and spas, casinos, sporting venues, and golf and social clubs. The county has previously told people to stay away from gyms, theaters and shopping malls.

The county's request does not apply to essential businesses, like supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations.

Regarding gathering size, the county says no more than 20 people should congregate. Meanwhile, the city of Pittsburgh on Sunday announced a ban on gatherings of 50 or more for the next two weeks.

On Friday, Pittsburgh announced that events of 250 people or more would be prohibited. It is now reducing that number, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.

The county said that while ill people should not go out, healthy residents are “free to travel” but that they should make sure “they are practicing social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people.”

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.