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Blair and Bedford Counties to Move to Coronavirus 'Yellow Phase' on May 15

Series: Coronavirus | Story 97

Last updated 5/14/2020 at 12:18pm

Map courtesy of Sen. Pat Browne, Pa. 16th District

Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that 13 Pennsylvania counties, including Blair and Bedford counties, will move to the "Yellow Phase" of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 15.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that 13 Pennsylvania counties, including Blair and Bedford counties, will move to the "Yellow Phase" of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 15.

Those counties moving to the Yellow Phase include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

On May 1, the governor and Pa. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed new orders, one for Yellow Phase reopening and one to extend the Red Phase counties' stay-at-home order, which was set t o expire last night, to June 4. The red phase stay-at-home order extension does not mean that other counties won't move to the yellow phase in advance of June 4.

The phases

The three phases – Red, Yellow and Green – are a three-phase matrix to determine when counties and regions are ready to begin easing some restrictions on work, congregate settings, and social interactions, according to the official Pennsylvania government website at pa.gov.

The Red Phase

Red is the most restrictive phase and is what the entire state was under in the month of April.

The Red Phase has the purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business, school closures, and building safety protocols. Counties that are still in the Red Phase after May 15 will be those in the eastern one-third of the commonwealth, including counties surrounding Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

As of Tuesday afternoon, May 12, Huntingdon County was still in the Red Phase, mostly because of the coronavirus level detected at the state prison, according to the commonwealth.

The Department of Corrections reported 108 cases among inmates at SCI Huntingdon on May 7.

The Yellow Phase

As regions or counties move into the Yellow Phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease. Others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, hair and nail salons, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.

For example, in the Yellow Phase, retail locations will be able to open with guidance from the state that is substantially similar to the worker safety and building safety order.

Otherwise, retail businesses will be able to allow for curbside pickup. The purpose of this phase is to begin to re-open 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 pa.gov.

The Yellow Phase rules are:

Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

• Telework must continue where feasible

• Businesses with in-person operations must follow business and building safety orders

• Child care open complying with guidance

• Congregate care and prison restrictions in place

• Schools remain closed for in-person instruction

Social Restrictions

• "Stay at Home Order" lifted for aggressive mitigation

• Large gatherings of more than 25 persons prohibited

• In-person retail allowable, curbside and delivery preferable

• Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities and personal care services (such as gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons and other entities that provide massage therapy), 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 Pa. Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning. The guidance can be found here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200504-COVID-19-Business-Guidance.pdf

• The state will monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

The Green Phase

Blair and Bedford counties have not been moved into the Green Phase.

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, according to pa.gov.

Beyond re-opening

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, in announcing the move of 13 counties to the Yellow Phase, made it clear that his administration is willing to re-impose restrictions if the spread of the coronavirus warrants it.

"The reopening plan prioritizes the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians by using a combination of factors to gauge how much movement a location can tolerate before the 2019 novel coronavirus becomes a threat," Gov. Wolf said. "I'd like to emphasize that this plan is not a one-way route. We are closely monitoring the 24 counties in the yellow phase and will re-impose restrictions if danger arises."


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