HARRISBURG, PA—Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf presented a plan on Wednesday to begin a phased restart of the economy on May 8, beginning with the possible lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions in the more rural north central and northwest sections of the Commonwealth.
The detailed plan released by the governor categorizes the reopening phases as red, yellow and green. To decide when to move to a new phase, the administration will use Department of Health metrics and a data tool developed by Carnegie Mellon University.
The red phase currently applies to the restrictions currently imposed on the entire state to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures and building safety protocols.
To determine when a region is ready to reopen and return to work, the state will evaluate the incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita, relying upon existing regional health districts used by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A regional assessment will measure the COVID-19 cases to determine if the target goals of an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days are met. The administration will work closely with county and local governments to enable the communities to reopen and transition back to work.
As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers and limitations around large gatherings, remain in place. The purpose of this phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible, according to the governor.
Highlights of the yellow phase include:
• Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
• Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and
• Building Safety Orders
• Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders
• Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
• Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction
• Stay-at-Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation
• Large Gatherings Prohibited
• In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
• Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
• Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only
• All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning
• Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary
The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal,” it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum, state officials noted.
Highlights of the green phase include:
• All Businesses Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
• Aggressive Mitigation Orders Lifted
• All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
• Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary.
The state of Pennsylvania is part of a seven-state consortium of Northeast states that also includes: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.