Allegheny Co. sees uptick in COVID-19 cases, suspends on-site alcohol sales

The City-County Building in Pittsburgh (Photo via Flickr Commons)

After an increase in COVID-19 cases, Allegheny County restaurants and bars will be closed to on-site alcohol sales, county officials said Sunday.

The order comes as the county tallied 393 new cases in the past seven days, according to the Associated Press. 

The order, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said, will allow bars and restaurants to remain open, but they will not be allowed to serve alcohol other than for state-approved takeout options.

In addition to suspending on-site alcohol sales, wearing masks will be required when dining inside a restaurant, Fitzgerald said, adding that outside dining was encouraged.

The order will take effect at 5 p.m. on June 30.

Allegheny County, which turned green on June 5, logged 96 new COVID-19 cases as of Sunday and no new deaths, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

Since March 14, the county has had a total of 2,568 cases. This includes 2,425 confirmed cases and 143 probable cases.

Allegheny County’s top health official, Dr. Debra Bogen, said that many of the new cases stemmed from travel, particularly those who participated in nightlife during travel and visiting local bars.

Bogen recommended that anyone who has traveled out of the state self-quarantine for 14 days or have two negative COVID-19 tests 48 hours apart.

“Recommending quarantine and testing after travel will help reduce spread from those individuals and I am confident our county has the testing capacity to handle it,” Bogen said.

In a statement Sunday, Gov. Tom Wolf said he supported the efforts by Allegheny County officials to contain the virus’ spread:

“I commend Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen for the decision to shut down bars and restaurants for on-premises alcohol sales in Allegheny County effective June 30. This was the right move to work to stop the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in its tracks and to remind all residents and businesses that the best defense we have in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping Pennsylvanians safe is to continue to follow the mask-wearing requirement, practice social distancing, and follow safety guidelines even and especially during the green phase of reopening. We cannot become complacent in practicing the measures we know can protect everyone from the spread of this very contagious virus.

“It is my hope that swift action on the part of the county results in swift containment and the return to an increased commitment to protect all residents, especially those most vulnerable to COVID-19, and that this action sets an example for the rest of the state to continue to follow mitigation efforts put in place to protect lives and livelihoods.

“Mitigation efforts statewide include the requirement to wear a mask when in businesses, following occupancy limits in all businesses and gatherings, practicing social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing surfaces – these simple practices can make a huge difference in protecting ourselves, our seniors, our neighbors and our communities. Even if you believe you will not get sick, you can, and you can spread the virus to someone who may not be able to recover as easily.”

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.