Allegheny Co. bars, restaurants closed for in-person service for one week; events over 25 people canceled

One-week shutdown order has Allegheny Co. bars, restaurants taking another hit

ALLEGHENY CO., Pa. — The Allegheny County Health Department issued new orders Thursday that will close in-person service at all bars, restaurants, casinos and events of more than 25 people for a week starting July 3.

This is in addition to the previous order from Dr. Debra Bogen that bans restaurants and bars from selling alcohol for on-site consumption.

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Along with that order, Bogen also recommended a voluntary stay-at-home protocol for county residents. During this weeklong closure, food establishments can still offer take-out and delivery.

The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

This comes after Allegheny County saw another record-setting day in terms of new COVID-19 cases -- with 233.

Glenn Hawley, owner of Napa Prime in Warrendale and former president of the Restaurant and Lodging Association, was part of a discussion with Fitzgerald on how to safely reopen the hospitality industry before the order was handed down.

Hawley and other leaders made recommendations to county officials after an undisclosed number of restaurants and bars violated the health guidelines, which officials said contributed to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Hawley told Channel 11 they suggested to stop alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and that every person drinking should be seated.

They also recommended strong enforcement from the health department and liquor control board. Penalties may include indefinitely closing a business, but many owners are wondering if the penalties weren’t strict already and if the government wasn’t enforcing them.

Hawley said this new weeklong shutdown can cause a devastating ripple effect to the local economy, as small businesses are taking yet another financial hit.

“It affects back down the line to your pervayers, so we are not buying fish, we are not buying steaks ... we are not buying lemons,” Hawley said.

Bar, restaurant owners react to Allegheny Co. weeklong closure order

Following this order, the city of Pittsburgh also pulled all permits for Fourth of July block parties and canceled all events for that day.

Also, all facility, shelter and field rentals are canceled in all nine Allegheny County parks from July 3-9 due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

Officials said customers will automatically receive full refunds as soon as possible, and all credit card payments will go back onto the card you used (Allegheny County is unable to process refunds to a different card).

If your card has expired, officials said your refund will be processed as a check. If you paid with cash or check, your refund will come as a check. Check refunds may take 10-20 business days, but will be issued as soon as possible.

Anyone with questions or concerns about the policy is asked to contact webmaster.parks@alleghenycounty.us.

You can read the full order from the health department below:

“Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen today announced that additional mitigation measures are being taken in Allegheny County to further stem the spread of coronavirus cases in the county. The new order calls for a one-week closure of bars, restaurants and casinos and the cancellation of all activities or events over 25 people for that same one-week time period. Food establishments may still offer take-out and delivery during that time period. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3, 2020.

In addition to the order, Dr. Bogen also recommended a voluntary stay-at-home protocol for residents of the county. While not part of the order, limiting travel to necessities and other mitigation measures is intended to further reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our county.

“I know that people were angry and frustrated with recent developments including the surge in cases, the prior order and recommendations, as well as the state mask order,” said Bogen. “I also realize that this newest order won’t make any of that better but as Health Department Director, I am charged with protecting, promoting, and preserving the health and well-being of all county residents, particularly the most vulnerable. This is not a decision that I’ve made lightly but I believe it’s necessary based on the new cases in the county and the community spread that is occurring.”

This order is in addition to the restriction of on on-premises alcohol consumption at any business establishment in Allegheny County that was issued on Sunday.

The department continues to track and investigate all cases of COVID-19 and reminds residents to stay safe. Due to the sheer volume of new cases, the outreach from the department to positive cases and close contacts is taking longer than it has in the past. Those expecting to be contacted are asked to be patient. Regardless of whether you are a positive case or a close contact, the department has provided a resource for residents to know what to expect. The Isolation-Quarantine Basics document can be found on the county’s COVID-19 page (https://bit.ly/ACHDcovid-19) and is also linked here.

“Please, if you know that you have a positive case of coronavirus or are a close contact, answer your phone and speak with our staff about what steps you must take to keep yourself and others safe,” urged Bogen.

The full text of the order follows:

ORDER OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY HEALTH

DEPARTMENT TO HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

WHEREAS, the ACHD is a county department of health organized under the Pennsylvania Local Health Administration Law, 16 P.S. §§ 12001 – 12028 (hereinafter, “LHAL”).

WHEREAS, the LHAL requires that whenever the ACHD’s director finds a nuisance detrimental to the public health, the director must order that that nuisance be abated. 16 P.S. § 12012(d).

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955 (hereinafter “DPCL”), the ACHD has primary responsibility for the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases in Allegheny County. 35 P.S. § 521.3(a).

WHEREAS, Section 5 of the DCPL states, “Upon receipt by a local board or department of health or by the department, as the case may be, of a report of a disease which is subject to isolation, quarantine, or any other control measure the local board or department of health or the department shall carry out the appropriate control measures in such a manner and in such a place as is provided by rule or regulation.” 35 P.S. § 521.5.

WHEREAS, the DPCL authorizes the State Advisory Health Board to promulgate rules and regulations concerning, “…the communicable diseases which are subject to isolation, quarantine, or other control measures…” 35 P.S. § 521.16(a)(3).

WHEREAS, the ACHD is a “local health authority” as that term is defined by State Advisory Health Board promulgated regulations. See 28 Pa. Code § 27.1.

WHEREAS, as a county department of health organized under the LHAL, the ACHD is a “local morbidity reporting office” or “LMRO”, as that term is defined at 28 Pa. Code § 27.1.

WHEREAS, the State Advisory Health Board has issued a regulation regarding communicable disease control measures which states:

(a) The Department or local health authority shall direct isolation of a person or an animal with a communicable disease or infection; surveillance, segregation, quarantine or modified quarantine of contacts of a person or an animal with a communicable disease or infection; and any other disease control measure the Department or the local health authority considers to be appropriate for the surveillance of disease, when the disease control measure is necessary to protect the public from the spread of infectious agents.

(b) The Department and local health authority will determine the appropriate disease control measure based upon the disease or infection, the patient’s circumstances, the type of facility available and any other available information relating to the patient and the disease or infection.

(c) If a local health authority is not an LMRO, it shall consult with and receive approval from the Department prior to taking any disease control measure.

28 Pa. Code § 27.60 (emphasis added).

WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a highly infectious, communicable disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans. It is a respiratory disease with symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. See ACHD Information Page, “What is COVID-19?”, at https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Resources/COVID-19/What-is-COVID-19-.aspx.

WHEREAS, the ACHD finds that the spread of COVID-19 is a public health hazard and a nuisance detrimental to public health.

WHEREAS, on March 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, finding that threat from COVID-19 constitutes a threat of imminent disaster to the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth, made a statewide disaster declaration concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHEREAS, on March 12, 2020, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald made an emergency declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic

WHEREAS, as of July 2, 2020, there are 88,074 confirmed COVID-19 cases present in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and 3,103 confirmed cases in Allegheny County. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase daily.

WHEREAS, beginning on June 22, 2020, Allegheny County experienced a sharp increase in reported COVID-19 cases. Daily case count records occurred with 90 new cases on June 27th; 96 new cases on June 28th; 109 new cases on June 30th; 110 new cases on July 1st; and 233 new cases on July 2, 2020.

WHEREAS, ACHD investigations of each new COVID-19 case indicates that the sudden increase in cases beginning on June 22nd was due, in large part, to crowded conditions at bars, restaurants, and other businesses serving alcohol.

WHEREAS, to the extent that the ACHD has determined that the increase in COVID-19 cases is attributable to crowded conditions at bars, restaurants, and similar businesses serving alcohol, it further determines that appropriate disease control measures shall be required in order to abate and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Allegheny County.

NOW, therefore, this 2nd day of July, 2020, in furtherance of the above determinations and

pursuant to the authority granted by the LHAL (16 P.S. § 12012(d)) and the DPCL (35 P.S. § 521.5; 28 Pa. Code § 27.60) the Director of the Allegheny County Health Department hereby ORDERS that effective on July 3, 2020, at 12:01 AM, and lasting until July 10, 2020, at 12:00 AM, the following disease prevention control measures shall be implemented to abate and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Allegheny County:

1. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, and taverns shall close for in-person operation. Take-out and delivery service are still permitted.

2. Gatherings and events shall be limited to a maximum of 25 individuals. Gatherings and events include, but are not limited to, meetings, trainings, concerts, fairs, festivals, sporting events, movies, or theater performances. This Order does not apply to religious gatherings held by churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, or other places of worship. Religious institutions remain subject to any requirements set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

DONE and ENTERED this 2nd day of July, 2020, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania by:

Dr. Debra L. Bogen, MD, FAAP, FABM

Director, Allegheny County Health Department

The executed order, in its entirety, will also be available on the county’s COVID-19 webpage (https://bit.ly/ACHDcovid-19).”

Allegheny Co. health officials order bars, restaurants to close in-person services for a week