The state announced this week that it was easing limits on the number of people who can attend events, shifting to limits tied to the occupancy of the venue.
The new guidelines will allow up to 7,500 people to attend professional and college football games in large outdoor stadiums or up to 3,750 to enjoy a concert in a large arena, for example, but crowd limits do not replace the responsibility to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Although crowd limits help prevent people from being placed in situations where they cannot easily social distance from each other, medical experts note that the chances of catching or transmitting the virus will be reduced only when people avoid close contact with people outside of their household, maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing from each other, wear a face mask and wash their hands often.
With those guidelines in mind — and more importantly, in practice — it will be refreshing and good for more people to feel safe attending weddings, festivals, fairs, concerts, theatrical performances and sporting events.
The new spectator or visitor limitations for outdoor events in Pennsylvania are 25% of the maximum capacity for venues designed for up to 2,000 people, 20% of the maximum capacity for venues that hold 2,001 to 10,000 people and 15% of the maximum, or up to 7,500 people, for outdoor venues or stadiums that accommodate more than 10,000 people.
Indoor limits are 20% of the maximum capacity for venues holding up to 2,000 people, 15% capacity for those that hold 2,001 to 10,000 people and 10%, or a maximum of 3,750, for indoor venues built for more than 10,000 people.
“Pennsylvanians must continue to social distance and wear masks as we prepare to fight the virus through the fall and winter,” Gov. Tom Wolf emphasized in announcing the new limits. “Regardless of the size of the event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID.”
As we have witnessed over the past seven months, it all comes down to personal responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us, including not going out if we feel sick, washing hands, maintaining 6 feet of social distance and wearing a mask.
In recent months, as tension has increased, business shutdowns and crowd limits continued, and a legal battle has bounced around the federal courts, many have argued that Gov. Wolf needs to treat Pennsylvanians like adults.
Tuesday’s announcement is one example of him doing that. Clearly, we aren’t out of the woods yet with this virus. The new case numbers statewide have been more than 1,000 almost daily. Wednesday’s total was the highest since early May, and Saturday's figure was even higher than Wednesday's.
To make this work, we must follow the guidance. Otherwise additional and more aggressive enforcement returns.
With all of that said, here’s hoping the revised crowd limits will inject a little more enjoyment into our lives this fall and winter. There’s no question we can all use a little more of that.
The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.) | CNHI News Service