Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:54

Document: Big Car Show in Carlisle, PA, Allowed Despite State Attendance Limits

Written by Julian Routh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


After arguing in court that holding an outdoor gathering expected to draw tens of thousands would “put the lives of Pennsylvanians at risk” and threaten to reverse progress on the state’s mitigation of COVID-19, Pennsylvania officials gave the green light to a June car show in Carlisle---as long as organizers capped total capacity at 20,000 people on the fairgrounds at one time.

The state Department of Health had sued in Commonwealth Court to put a stop to Spring Carlisle, a massive automotive flea market, but agreed to a settlement that was under wraps and marked “confidential.” It was obtained by the Post-Gazette this week after it surfaced in a different legal case.


The settlement revealed the state said Spring Carlisle "may continue as a flea market" as long as organizers "[enforced] all applicable social distancing, masking, area cleaning and hygiene requirements" and limited capacity. No more than 250 people were to be allowed inside a building on the premises, and no more than 20,000 people were to be allowed on the fairgrounds at once.


The event normally draws 100,000 people from all over the world, the suit noted, and anticipated that crowd size again.


Meanwhile, the state---as of the time of the June 19 settlement---was continuing to prohibit "any gathering for a planned or spontaneous event of greater than 250 individuals," which included "a concert, fair, festival, conference, sporting event, movie showing or theater performance."


The Department of Health's lawyers included this phrasing in its original filing as it laid out its case for why the car show should be shut down.


When asked a series of questions about the confidential settlement, Maggi Mumma, deputy press secretary for the Department of Health, said due to the terms of the settlement, the department couldn't comment on it specifically.


But Mumma did say the state's guidance for settings such as outdoor flea markets "where individuals do not congregate for discrete events or shows" has "always been different than the guidance offered on large gatherings for an event or show."

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