Pennsylvania relaxes gathering limits again, including for funeral services

The below information is current as of the publication date listed. Because COVID-19 response measures on all fronts are continually evolving, clients should stay alert to new developments and consult with counsel on any critical questions.

For the second time in two weeks, Gov. Tom Wolf has relaxed Pennsylvania’s limits on attendance at gatherings, such as funeral services. On March 15, 2021, the Governor announced that indoor events and gatherings are limited to 25% of maximum capacity and outdoor events and gatherings are limited to 50% of maximum capacity, regardless of the size of the venue. Although a formal order has not been issued yet, the Governor said that these changes are effective starting April 4, 2021.

Increased numbers at gatherings are only permitted if attendees and staff are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirements. Other COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as mask-wearing, also continue to apply.

Maximum capacity remains defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code. If fire code capacity is unknown, maximum capacity is assumed to be 67 people per 1,000 square feet. These limits continue to include both attendees and staff.

Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other places of congregate worship continue to be excluded from the gathering limitations during religious services.

The Governor also announced relaxation of other restrictions. Effective April 4, 2021, personal services facilities, such as gym, malls, theaters, and casinos, may operate at up to 75% occupancy, as well as restaurants that self-certify compliance with public health safety guidelines and orders. Discrete events and gatherings, like funeral services, are subject to the gather limits of 25% for indoor gatherings and 50% for outdoor gatherings.

Saxton & Stump attorney Jason Benion is available to assist death care businesses and professionals with these and other issues regarding operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.