(AP) Gov. Tom Wolf said he is easing some pandemic restrictions in eight counties, including Pike County, on Friday, May 29.
Pike, along with Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, and Schuylkill, will be moving into the yellow phase Friday.
The yellow phase rules are as follows:
● Telework must continue where feasible.
● Businesses with in-person operations must follow safety orders.
● Child care centers may open in compliance with worker and building and safety orders.
● Restrictions remain in place for prisons and congregate care facilities, like nursing homes.
● Schools remain closed.
● Large gatherings are still prohibited.
● In-person retail is allowed, with curbside service and delivery preferred.
● Indoor recreation and fitness centers (gyms and spas) and all entertainment venues (casinos and theaters) will remain closed.
● Bars and restaurants will still be limited to take-out and delivery.
Wolf is accelerating his reopening plan even though more than 20 Pennsylvania counties remain above the state’s target for new infections that was supposed to be used to qualify them for an easing of pandemic restrictions -- and eight counties are more than three times over.
Wolf and his health secretary said the closely watched metric is no longer as important, citing dropping numbers of new virus infections and hospitalizations and increased testing capacity.
”There has been a single-minded focus on keeping people safe,’’ Wolf said in a video news conference. “That was true when we started this whole process, it’s true today. That has not changed and it won’t change.”
With the shutdown about to enter its third month, sustained Republican pressure to lift more restrictions more quickly had begun to pick up support from local Democratic officials and lawmakers. Small business owners struggling to keep afloat have also clamored for relief, with a few of them reopening in defiance of the governor’s shutdown orders.
Wolf is taking action amid a partisan blame game over whether governors or the president is responsible for the economic wreckage. That fight could have enormous implications in the November election in this presidential battleground state.
Yellow to green
The Democratic governor announced he is moving Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties to “yellow’’ on June 5, meaning that people will be able to freely leave their homes and retailers and other kinds of businesses will be allowed to reopen, though other restrictions remain.
Wolf also announced the first batch of counties moving to “green,” the least restrictive phase of his reopening plan: Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren. They are mostly lightly populated counties across northern Pennsylvania.
In the green phase, restaurants and bars, salons and barber shops, gyms, theaters, malls and casinos can all open at 50 percent capacity, Wolf’s reopening plan says. People will still be asked to wear masks in public and observe social distancing, Wolf said, and concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings “will continue to be restricted.’’
Please see these related stories at pikecountycourier.com:
Pike County Library to follow state plan for re-opening
Cocktails-to-go get green light