By Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Last call for Pennsylvania bars will be at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to cut COVID-19 transmission during what is normally a night of heavy public drinking, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday.

Wolf also imposed new crowd size limits of 500 people indoors and 2,500 outdoors and vowed there will be heightened enforcement of mask wearing requirements and other infection control tools.

He said busy bars can lead to “an increase in the exchange of the fluids that leads to increased infection.” The order will end 8 a.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving.

“We’ve got to recognize that as tough as that is, it’s even tougher when people die,” Wolf said.

The Wolf administration says infections and deaths from COVID-19 have risen sharply in recent days, raising concerns the infection could spread during holiday gatherings and could challenge the health care system’s capacity to adequately treat the sick.

The governor also said there will be limits on civil liability for businesses that enforce the statewide mandate that people wear masks in public spaces.

The state’s Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, also made a plea for people to stay at home, calling it an advisory rather than an order. The administration said telework is now mandatory if it’s possible.

Wolf said he is not closing schools statewide but is directing schools in most counties to either sign onto aggressive mitigation measures or make all learning remote and cease all extracurricular activities.

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