Wolf eases Pa. crowd limits with sliding scale tied to capacity

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is allowing larger crowds at indoor and outdoor events under guidance that's linked to the maximum capacity of venues.

The Democratic governor's new rules, announced Tuesday, will take effect on Friday. They employ a sliding scale that will permit much larger crowds at many events, including school sporting events during the fall season.

The new rules limit attendance to 3,750 for the largest indoor spaces and at 7,500 for the largest outdoor venues.

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday afternoon that they will have 5,500 fans in the stands for Sunday's contest against the cross-state Philadelphia Eagles.

"Under the guidance provided by the Governor's office, we are limited to 7,500 total in the stadium, which includes players, coaches, stadium staff, etc. Based on these limitations we will only be able to make available to our fans approximately 5,500 seats in the lower seating bowl at Heinz Field," reads the statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II. "Priority will be given to our season ticket holders who did not opt out this season. Seat selection opportunities will be based on a computer-generated random selection of season ticket holder accounts. Unfortunately, we may not have tickets available for all season ticket holders for this game."

Pennsylvania officials said in their press release, the guidelines "allow for adjusted capacity to gathering limits while keeping in place the proven mitigation tools that include wearing masks and maintaining social distancing."

Based on maximum occupancy, the allowable indoor rates are:

  • 0-2,000 people – 20% of Maximum Occupancy
  • 2,001 - 10,000 people – 15% of Maximum Occupancy
  • Over 10,000 people – 10% of Maximum Occupancy up to 3,750 people

For outdoors, the rates are:

  • 0-2,000 people – 25% of Maximum Occupancy
  • 2,001 - 10,000 people – 20% of Maximum Occupancy
  • Over 10,000 people – 15% of Maximum Occupancy up to 7,500 people

The commonwealth is defining an event or gathering as "a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes that takes place over a limited timeframe, such as hours or days, including fairs, festivals, concerts, or shows and groupings that occur within larger, more permanent businesses, such as shows or performances within amusement parks, individual showings of movies, business meetings or conferences, or each party or reception within a multi-room venue."

The guidelines are different for groups of people who share a space within a building in the ordinary course of operations.

"All businesses are required to conduct their operations remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which they do business unless that is not possible," provided the business complies with masking rules and other requirements, the news release states.

"Pennsylvanians must continue to social distance and wear masks as we prepare to fight the virus through the fall and winter," Gov. Tom Wolf was quoted as saying in the release. "Regardless of the size of an event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID. We know everyone has sacrificed in many ways and today's announcement reflects a gradual adjustment to our lives as we learn how we can do things safely until we have a cure, or an effective vaccine is widely available."

When Philadelphia will allow fans at Lincoln Financial Field and other local sports venues remains unclear, however.

"Philadelphia, obviously, is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Mayor Jim Kenney said during Tuesday's COVID-19 update held remotely. "...We have different issues and different problems as compared to some places -- a small town in the center of the state or along the northern tier. So, when the governor and folks are getting pressure from the legislators and others to do certain things and kind of to open up more, it's coming from areas that aren't experiencing the type of infection that we're experiencing. Even Pittsburgh's, I think, half our size."

Kenney said that's the difficulty in articulating their issues to the public, when they think the city should open up just because the governor says so.

"It's not that easy, and it's much more complicated," the mayor said. "And when you're making decisions based on people's health and life and death, you better make sure you're right or at least reasonably right before you jump in. That's why we're hesitating. We didn't find out about this change in guidance ... or regulation until late yesterday afternoon."

One of our news crews is working the story and will have a live report coming up on the FOX 29 News at 5 & The Six:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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