PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County issued a new two-week order that loosens some restrictions, like allowing outdoor dining and some alcohol to be served, as well as limiting gatherings to no more than 25 people inside and 50 outside.
This new order rescinds the one banning the on-site consumption of alcohol and the other shutting down bars and restaurants except for takeout. It takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
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Indoor areas must be close except to through-traffic, and customers at “non-bar seating” outside can be served if they’re seated.
They’re limited to three drinks, and outdoor seating is permitted until 11 p.m. Take-out is allowed to continue after then.
Faced with a surge in coronavirus cases, the county moved quickly last week to shutdown in-person operations and indoor seating at restaurants and bars. Now, as potential lifeline to those businesses, they are loosening those restrictions.
“Outdoor dining isn’t as dangerous,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
The county health department says mostly younger vacationers returning from hotspot beaches spread the virus in crowded bars.
“What we’re trying to do is be strategic in stopping activities that spread the virus and allowing activities that seem to be safe,” says Fitzgerald.
After being closed for the past week, Joe Tambellini is throwing out food and is now preparing to reopen, but while he may soon able to serve people on his six tables outside, his 24 indoor tables must remain off-limits to the public.
“I call this takeout on steroids,” he says. “You get to serve a couple of people outside. It’s not enough to survive.”
Tambellini says without indoor dining, restaurants like his can’t make it. And while he gives the county credit for trying, he says restaurants need more help.
“We’re at the end of the rope. We don’t figure this out and quickly, it’s going to be annihilation for everybody, and I’m saying everybody,” he says.
“I mean it’s the best they can do right now. It’s a strange world we live in right now.”