USA

Pennsylvania limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings can remain in effect, appeals court says

In the brief ruling, the three judges from the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a ruling from a lower court judge, William Stickman IV, while the appeal goes forward.

Stickman had moved to lift restrictions on nonessential businesses that prevent gatherings above certain numbers of people, saying that the state could still restrict some businesses from operating at full capacity with proportionate attendance limits.

"We're pleased that the court granted our request for a stay on indoor and outdoor gathering limits," Wolf's spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger said Thursday. "This ruling means that the 25 indoor and 250 outdoor gathering orders remain in effect."

An attorney for the appellees -- including four counties and several Pennsylvania businesses -- lamented the ruling.

"We are disappointed with this day but we are undeterred," attorney Thomas King told CNN. "We look forward to fighting this case in full in front of the 3rd Circuit."

King said that briefs from both sides of the case are due in early November after which the appeals panel will hear the case.

Wolf, a Democrat, and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine had barred indoor gatherings of more than 25 people and outdoor events with more than 250 people to stop the spread of coronavirus.

But Stickman decided that order and other restrictions violated the First Amendment and other constitutional rights of the state's citizens. He said some of the state government's restrictions were "draconian" and had no real end in sight.

Stickman had also ruled against Pennsylvania's stay-at-home orders, many of which had already been lifted. Candidates in the state had sought in the lawsuit to hold political rallies.

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