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Wolf Administration says data from June traces COVID-19 exposure to bars, restaurants

Indoor dining and bar service are the state's focus of targeted COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Some restaurant owners are buckling under the weight of Governor Tom Wolf’s statewide restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining.

White Rose Restaurant Group announced it is temporarily closing, writing on Facebook that it is better for them to suspend operations than continue under current regulations. Other restaurant owners said employees are quitting.

“They can`t operate at 25 percent. They can`t even open their doors at 25 percent,” said Jim Delisio, owner of Racehorse Tavern in York.

Governor Wolf said there is evidence that suggests a recent rise in cases can be traced to indoor dining and bar service, which is why they are the focus of targeted COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) does not have specific data that links a number of new COVID-19 cases to a number of bars and restaurants, a department spokesperson said. The DOH did point to a number of medical studies that lay out several different categories of risk in bars and restaurants. 

RELATED: White Rose Restaurant Group temporarily ceases operations at all restaurants

The DOH also cited data from the Allegheny County Health Department from late June as strong evidence to support the state's mitigation efforts. 

Between June 20 and June 30, Allegheny County Health Department Staff investigated 712 new cases of COVID-19. Their data linked COVID-19 exposure to more than 40 different bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

The county health department could not provide FOX43 with specific numbers, such as how many of the new cases were patrons or employees of the restaurants and bars. 

RELATED: Gov. Wolf visits WellSpan York Hospital

A county health department spokesperson told FOX43 “you’re asking for some old details as there are daily updates.” However, the Wolf Administration is using these “old" details as support for new COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Despite a lack of specific data, there have been medical studies that show any environment that is enclosed, with poor air flow and groups of people, spells trouble and significantly increases the risk of COVID-19 spread.

The state is also looking at numbers from other states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, where new case counts remain low and indoor dining and bars remain closed. 

The DOH also cited New York as a state that does not allow indoor dining. However, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on June 12 that five regions entered Phase 3, which does allow indoor restaurant and food services.