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State drops legal action against restaurants over pandemic

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health has dropped its legal action against more than 40 restaurants that were accused of defying state orders to close indoor dining and maintain social-distancing protocols.

The Health Department had filed two separate complaints alleging that restaurants were violating pandemic restrictions that Gov. Tom Wolf imposed in December in response to a winter surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The state had sought an order to shut down in-person dining, as well as damages.

Department officials said that most restaurants came into compliance and that the pandemic has since eased.

“The majority of restaurants have come into compliance with the Secretary of Health’s orders to protect their customers from the spread of COVID-19 within their communities,” said Health Department spokesperson Maggi Barton. She said that with the pandemic in retreat, nearly all of the state’s remaining restrictions are slated to be lifted on Memorial Day.

The Health Department petitioned Commonwealth Court last week to discontinue the matter, and the court granted the request on Tuesday.

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