• Marlene

PA COVID-19 Restrictions Update

Updated: Oct 21

UPDATED OCTOBER 21, 2020


In the past two weeks, there have been several changes for businesses to understand, a change in restaurant occupancy guidelines, and a recent court case, so it's time for a COVID19 update.


Back to the Basics

There are two types of restrictions: those on social gatherings and those on businesses (with some overlap).


Social Gatherings:

Restrictions apply to the organization and gathering of groups of people.


Business Restrictions:

Restrictions related to occupancy, safety, and activity restrictions. Occupancy means the number of people permitted in a space is based on a percentage of the permitted occupancy of a business.eg: If a restaurant is permitted to have 100 people in for maximum occupancy, under a 50% restriction, 50 people are now allowed in the restaurant.


Red Yellow Green


The Governor also released a three-phase approach to COVID19 restrictions-red, yellow, and green. As of July 2020, all counties in Pennsylvania are in the green phase.


Individual counties can also pass orders that are more restrictive than the state orders but not less.


For PA businesses, the Following Rules Apply Under the Green Phase:


General Business Operations:

  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible

  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements

  • Masks Are Required in Businesses

  • Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance

  • Congregate Care Restrictions in Place

  • Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities

Business Occupancy and Other Restrictions (not including bars and restaurants):

  • All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy, Except for Bars and Restaurants

  • Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only

  • Indoor Recreation and Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged; Fitness Facilities Are Directed to Prioritize Outdoor Fitness Activities

  • All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy

  • Event venues must abide by a new maximum occupancy calculator. Which can be found: here.

  • Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols


Bars and Restaurants:

  • Self-certified Restaurants May Open at 50% Capacity for Indoor Dining. Restaurants can self certify here. Enforcement begins October 5th. If a restaurant is not offering indoor dining or is keeping indoor dining at a maximum of 25% occupancy, they do not need to complete the self-certification form.

  • On-premises Alcohol Consumption Prohibited Unless Part of a Meal; Cocktails-to-go and Carryout Beverages are Allowed

  • Serving Alcohol for on-site Consumption Must End at 11:00 PM and All Alcoholic Beverages Must Be Removed From Patrons by Midnight


For Social Gatherings the Following Restrictions Apply:


As of October 9, social gatherings (both indoor and outdoor) are subject to the new maximum occupancy requirements based on the State's calculator.

  • Masks Are Required in all Public Spaces

  • Smoking and e-cigarettes are prohibited at indoor and outdoor dining facilities and indoor at casinos

*Note: Check your individual county for any other county-specific requirements.


Latest Changes:


As of October 9, Event venues are now subject to a maximum occupancy chart rather than both occupancy and social gathering limitations. This is a big change. Previously, event venues had to stay under an occupancy limit but also had to make sure they, and their clients, had no more than 25 people inside and 250 outside. Now, under the new rule, event venues only have to abide by the maximum occupancy chart requirements.


Additionally, at the end of September the new 50% occupancy rule for restaurants if they meet the self-certification requirements. Restaurants can increase their occupancy capacity from 25% of their maximum occupancy to 50% if they fill out the certification with the state that they are meeting the state’s requirements


The other major thing happened in the courts. On September 14th, Judge Stickman of the Federal District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania struck down three aspects of Gov. Wolf’s reopening restrictions. The first two are related to the stay at home order and the life-sustaining business restrictions-which are now no longer applicable. However, the third applies to the 25 person indoor limit and the 250 person outdoor limit. No other restrictions are affected.


Gov. Wolf has been granted a stay of enforcement of the case, which in normal people terms means that THE LIMITS ARE STILL IN PLACE until an appeal to the ruling is heard. There was a lot of legal back and forth where at first they could no longer but in place, and now they can, but essentially it means that while Judge Stickman struck down the indoor/outdoor limits, they can stay in place until a higher court decides if they will agree with Judge Stickman's decision or not, and it is not clear when that decision will be made.





Whew. That escalated quickly. But we hope this helps break down the recent changes and provides businesses additional information in relation to COVID19 restrictions. Feel free to reach out to Trellis if you have questions specific to your business.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should discuss their specific situation with an attorney.


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