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Wolf to impose restrictions on bars, restaurants, gatherings

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf planned to announce broad new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings Wednesday as Pennsylvania reported another 1,000 new infections, continuing a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of the state.

Nightclubs will be shut down, bars will also be closed unless they also offer dine-in meals, and bars and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity, according to an email from Wolf’s office sent to county governments.

Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 people will be prohibited, as well as outdoor gatherings of more than 250. And businesses will be required to have their employees work remotely to the extent possible.

Wolf’s order, which takes effect Thursday, risked major backlash in large swaths of the state where the virus has largely been kept at bay.

Wolf and his health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, planned a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Pennsylvania’s recently elevated statewide virus numbers have been driven in large part by increased spread in the Pittsburgh area, where officials attribute the spike to younger people and others congregating in bars and restaurants.

Allegheny County, which has already imposed temporary restrictions on restaurants and bars, reported 246 additional infections on Wednesday from tests performed between June 30 and July 14. Infections numbers have also been up in counties ringing Allegheny.

The health department reported 994 new positive virus cases Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to more than 97,000. The health department reported the results of nearly 29,000 virus tests, the highest one-day total since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health officials also reported 26 new deaths.

The Philadelphia school district, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that it plans to resume limited in-person instruction in the fall, with most students in class just two days per week and learning remotely the other three.

In other coronavirus-related developments in Pennsylvania on Wednesday:

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ONLINE LEARNING

East Stroudsburg University has become the second school in Pennsylvania’s 14-school, state-owned university system to announce that it will conduct the fall semester almost entirely through remote instruction because of the danger of the coronavirus.

“While we were certain we could all return to campus with a ‘new normal’ this fall, we know now that this is not the safest, most realistic, option for our greater ESU community,” the school’s president, Marcia Welsh, said in a statement.

A “very limited” number of classes will be offered for both remote and in-person formats for student teaching, clinical placements, internships and other situations, Welsh said.

West Chester University also said it will continue remote instruction in the fall. Pennsylvania’s larger independent universities, thus far, are planning to conduct classes through in-person instruction, with many offering an option for remote learning and some limits on class size.

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FALL COLLEGE SPORTS

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference announced Wednesday that it has canceled fall sports.

The decision affects 18 schools, primarily those in the state-run university system.

“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said in a news release. “However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members.”

The conference said it’s hoping to shift fall sports to the spring semester. A decision on winter and spring sports will be made later, PSAC said.

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GUN PERMIT EXTENSION

Pennsylvania residents will be allowed to carry guns on expired permits for a little longer.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday granted another extension for holders of concealed carry permits. State police said that permits that expired March 19 or later have been extended to Sept. 30. The extension was granted because of the ongoing closure of some county courthouses and sheriff’s offices.

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