In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, Pennsylvania state officials announced Monday that residents will not be able to drink alcohol at bars or restaurants the night before Thanksgiving.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that the temporary suspension will go into effect on 5 p.m. Wednesday and remain in place until 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.
“It turns out that the biggest day for drinking is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Wolf said. “When people get together in that situation, it leads to an increase in the exchange of fluids, that leads to an increase in infection.”
Patrons will still be able to purchase alcohol to-go.
On Saturday alone, there were more than 7,000 new cases of Covid-19, according to data from the state, and more than 4,000 additional new cases on Sunday.
“Transmission of Covid-19 is reaching new heights that we have not yet encountered,” Levine said.
Levine and Wolf also announced a new stay-at-home advisory for residents starting Monday, though they clarified that it was not a shutdown order.
Indoor dining remains at 25 to 50% capacity, while retail can continue at 75% capacity, Levine said. Gyms, salons and other personal care businesses can continue to operate at 50% capacity.
Beginning November 27, businesses must allow employees to work from home. Large gatherings are reduced, with prohibitions against events with more than 500 people indoors or 2,500 outdoors, according to Levine.
The suspension comes as many Americans travel for Thanksgiving, against the advice of some public health experts. More than 1 million US travelers passed through security at airports on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
At the same time, Covid-19 hospitalizations are soaring at unprecedented rates nationwide — threatening reduced care for even those who don’t have coronavirus.
As of Monday, the US has reported more than 12 million Covid-19 cases and over 257,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the restrictions on bars and restaurants as an alcohol ban. Patrons can still purchase alcohol to go on Wednesday evening.