More than half of the states’ residents have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, allowing for relaxed restrictions.
“We have made great strides throughout the commonwealth to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a Sunday statement. “As we lift mitigation orders, it is important for eligible Pennsylvanians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated is our best defense against this virus and ensuring individuals and their loved ones remain safe as we reopen Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania businesses — including restaurants, bars and event spaces — can open at full capacity starting Monday, Wolf announced.
Tefa Ghatas, co-owner of the City Line Diner based in Harrisburg, told CBS 21 News that her restaurant is “going to get the people to come back and take care of [its] business.” Ghatas had to close a location due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
“It was heartbreaking because all of my savings and all my life was tied to that restaurant, for me and my son, and then we had to close it down,” he told the outlet.
City Line Diner server Charles Kelly described the transition to 100% capacity as “wonderful.”
“Our staff has rebuilt also. We went from a staff of about 10 to 12 servers, down to about three after the closures ended and we’ve rebuilt to about 10 servers now,” he told the outlet.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on May 27 that businesses could start fully reopen on May 28.
“Effective at 12:01 AM on Friday, all distancing and capacity restrictions are lifted in Virginia,” he said in a tweet. “Commonsense mitigation measures have kept Virginians safe over the last 15 months, and with #COVID19 vaccines now widely available, it is time to begin our new normal.”
Stephen Michaels, owner of Buoy 44 Seafood Grill in Virginia Beach, told WTKR that his restaurant was doing to-go meals for about a year-and-a-half since COVID-19 began.
“We’re finally at no masks and we’re fully operational, and I’m sure every restaurant in Virginia is happy that we’re back to a hundred percent,” he told the outlet.
Some states have allowed 100% capacity at restaurants and other businesses for months. Others, like New York and Minnesota, have just recently started easing restrictions such as curfews and capacity limits.
The U.S. reached a 50% vaccination rate last week, according to the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.