Gov. Tom Wolf Bans Indoor Dining, Closes Gyms, Halts High School Sports For 3 Weeks – CBS Kitchener

kitchener (CBS / AP) – Pennsylvania temporarily suspends school sports and other extracurricular activities, and orders gyms, theaters and casinos to close and ban indoor dining as state officials point to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and Hospital stays respond with new restrictions. A day after announcing his own COVID-19 diagnosis, Governor Tom Wolf announced the much-anticipated clampdown Thursday to slow the accelerated spread of the coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overrun.

“The problem we all face is that this virus continues to rage in Pennsylvania. In the past few weeks it has become clear that we need to take further mitigation measures to protect Pennsylvania and the spread of COVID-19 stop, “said Wolf during a virtual press conference. “We all hoped it wouldn’t come to that, and that’s the point. The current state of the increase in Pennsylvania does not keep us waiting. We need to slow the spread now to save lives. If we don’t, we will get into great trouble. “

The restrictions include an indoor gathering limit of 10 and an outdoor gathering limit of 50. Retail stores can have capacity up to 50% while gyms and indoor fitness centers must be closed.

Cinemas, concert halls, museums, casinos, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues are also prohibited, said Wolf.

According to Wolf, personal school extracurricular activities as well as all sports at K-12 schools in the Commonwealth will be suspended. Professional and college sports can still be played, but fans are still not allowed to participate in games.

Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship were excluded from indoor assembly boundaries, but state officials strongly encouraged them not to congregate inside. Faith leaders should “carefully weigh the health risks to their parishioners given the immense spread of COVID-19 in the community,” the state recommendation said.

The restrictions will go into effect on December 12 at 12:01 a.m. through January 4, 2021 at 8:00 a.m., Wolf said.

Wolf had said Monday that additional pandemic measures might be needed to slow the spread of the virus and warned that hospitals would be under increasing strain and would have to turn patients away if they were overwhelmed.

A day later, he tested positive for the coronavirus and was diagnosed on Wednesday. He said on Thursday he was feeling fine and his last test was negative.

In his office, Wolf was found to have the virus after undergoing a routine surveillance test at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, where he worked.

Wolf’s spouse Frances Wolf tested negative for the virus but will continue to be quarantined with him at their home in Mount Wolf, near York, the governor’s office said Thursday.

Wolf said the restrictions were necessary until a vaccine was distributed.

“It’s so frustrating and so painful,” said Wolf, “but we can get there and there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Republican lawmakers have been vehemently opposed to most of Wolf’s restrictions since mid-April, accusing him of abusing his powers. Anticipating that Wolf would announce a new round of restrictions, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Center County, warned him Thursday.

“Do not use your executive order pen to destroy lives and livelihoods,” Benninghoff said in a statement.

The virus is taking an ever-increasing toll on the state, which now has an average of 10,000 new confirmed cases per day and has a record number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Pennsylvania reported 248 new deaths Thursday when the statewide toll exceeded 12,000.

The Wolf administration had already placed indoor capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants, restricted indoor and outdoor gatherings, mandated the wearing of masks and required travelers outside of the state to test negative for the virus before arriving. Health officials have also asked people to stay home whenever possible.

But Wolf admitted Monday that those measures and advice didn’t stop Pennsylvania’s numbers going in the wrong direction amid the national boom.

The state currently has an average of 10,000 new confirmed cases per day and a record number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Pennsylvania reported 248 new deaths Thursday when the statewide toll exceeded 12,000.

Some hospitals are running out of intensive care beds, and more than a third of hospitals in much of southern Pennsylvania expect staff shortages in the next week, according to the Department of Health.

“The number of hospital patients per day has increased by 4,400 since the end of September,” said Health Minister Dr. Rachel Levine. “Many hospitals across the state have few, if any, intensive care beds.”

Health system executives and frontline medical professionals said Thursday that the COVID situation was getting worse and the state had a duty to act.

“As soon as a bed opens, it’s full again,” said Mitchell Davis, a Pittsburgh nurse, in a statement distributed by the largest state health workers union. “We need support from the community, support from the government, and support from our employers to fight and win this over.”

Natasha Brown and Greg Argos of CBS3 contributed to this report.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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