Due to the alarming increase of COVID-19 cases in young people and people who have visited bars, Delaware County is reminding bar and restaurant owners that compliance of the state’s public health order is mandatory. Law Enforcement is inspecting establishments with liquor licenses and a hotline and website have been set up to allow people to report non-compliant businesses. Businesses who fail to comply may face a citation, fine and/or a suspension of their license.
Wearing a mask and social distancing are essential to preventing the recent increase in COVID-19 cases that we are seeing throughout the country including in our region. Hot spots have been traced to situations where people were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Neighboring counties and states have recently traced dozens of new positive cases to gathering at bars.
Numerous complaints have been filed reporting that bars in Delaware County are over capacity with people in close proximity and obviously not wearing masks while they’re standing at the bar drinking. Public Health Officials have repeatedly stated that bars are one of the most likely places to contract and spread the virus. Bar owners and staff are required to follow the guidance and order that remain in effect during the Green Phase which is necessary to keep customers, employees, and the community safe.
Under the Green Phase:
Standing in bar areas is not permitted. All patrons must be seated.
A maximum of four customers who have a common relationship may sit together at the bar while adhering to the 6-foot physical distance guidelines.
All customers must wear masks while entering, exiting, or traveling throughout the restaurant or bar. Masks may be removed while seated.
Employees are required to wear a mask while working at a restaurant or bar.
More details on guidance for bars and restaurants can be found here: https://www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/covid19/restaurantguidance_greenphase.html
“Business owners and residents who disregard the order are putting the community at risk by allowing the virus to spread,” said Delaware County Council Vice Chair Dr. Monica Taylor. “They are jeopardizing other business owners as well. A spike in cases and deaths could move our county and the entire region back to the Yellow Phase, which would lead to businesses being shut down again and would jeopardize schools opening in the fall.”
The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement is inspecting and investigating businesses with a liquor license in Delaware County. This past weekend, State Police inspected over 2,000 bars in Pennsylvania. Municipalities have been asked to assist in the investigation and reporting of businesses by utilizing their Code Enforcement Officers and Police Officers.
Patrons, residents and other business owners are asked to report businesses that are not following the order. Reports can be made to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement by phone or email: 1-800-932-0602 www.psp.pa.gov/LCE/Pages/report-a-violation.aspx
Bar owners who are found to be out of compliance may face a citation, fine and/or a suspension of their license.
“We are urging the entire community to report any bar or restaurant with a liquor license that is not following the order,” said Councilwoman Christine Reuther. “Many businesses are doing the right thing and are taking safety measures to keep their employees, patrons, and the entire community safe. Unfortunately, some are not. They are jeopardizing the health and safety of the community and the livelihood of the entire business community. Being put back into the Yellow Phase will mean businesses will close.”
Business owners and residents must remain diligent and socially responsible. The Green Phase loosened the restrictions and allowed businesses to operate responsibly. However, Green does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat. There are still cases being reported daily, we are seeing spikes in cases, and we continue to have deaths across the county.
As of July 9, 21 new positive cases were reported in Delaware County, bringing the total to 7,496 cases and 705 deaths. 719 new positive cases and 36 deaths were reported in the state today, bringing the total to over 92,000 cases and over 6800 deaths.
Recently, there has been an increase in cases among residents in their late teens and early 20’s. Over the weekend, the Pennsylvania Department of Health sent an alert to healthcare providers to update them on the change in demographics of those testing positive for COVID-19.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports that they have seen a significant increase among 19 to 24-year olds each month from April to July. In our region, they report a 5 percent increase in cases in April to nearly 15 percent so far in July. They also report that they are now seeing more cases in younger age groups than in groups older than 50. Public Health experts predict those numbers will continue to increase as young people flock to bars and parties and unfortunately disregard the order requiring masks and social distancing.
“We know that some of our younger residents have been socially responsible and we commend them,” said Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaefer. “This isn’t easy for any of us and it can be even harder for those in college or living on their own for the first time and those used to a busy and active lifestyle. As we entered into the Green Phase, some people wanted to rush out and enjoy hanging out with friends and getting back to normal. But the reality is that we’re not there and a crowded bar or party is one of the riskiest places to contract and spread the virus.”
Some younger residents may not be concerned about contracting the virus. The fact is, we don’t know the full impact of COVID-19 yet. Although the mortality rate among young people is much lower than that of the older population, we don’t yet know the long-term impact on the health of those who contract COVID-19, including possible complications affecting the lungs, the cardiovascular system, etc.
Residents also need to be aware of the risk of spreading the virus to others.
“You risk spreading the virus to someone who may not be as healthy as you such as an older family member, a child with cancer, or a friend with a weakened immune system,” said Schaefer. “And you, yourself are not immune. There have been thousands of healthy young people across the country who have been hospitalized with severe symptoms and who have even died.”
Those who disregard the order also risk putting our region back into the Yellow or even Red Phase, which means not returning back to school in the fall and businesses closing.
“It’s just not worth it. Please stop and think,” said Schaefer. “If you’re walking into a situation where it’s nearly impossible to social distance or wear a mask, such as standing at a bar—it’s not a smart decision.”