Wolf targeting May 8 for start of Pa. reopening
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf presented a detailed plan April 22 for reopening the commonwealth — with a targeted May 8 start.
The administration will categorize reopening into three phases: red, yellow and green. Phases will be assigned based on conditions in a county, counties or region.
“As the situation stabilizes, we are planning a measured and strategic approach to allowing Pennsylvanians to return to work safely to prevent a resurgence of the virus,” Wolf said. “This must be done in the most effective, efficient and risk-adverse method possible to balance our return to economic stability, while at the same time continuing to keep Pennsylvanians safe by controlling the spread of disease.
“We are planning for the days and weeks ahead when we will not only safely return Pennsylvanians to work but return to a different and more resilient Pennsylvania. While we cannot be certain of the future path of this disease, our decisions will be driven first by prioritizing the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.”
The administration will first study conditions in the north-central and northwest regions with a target of moving from red to yellow May 8. Additional monitoring will take place, and direction will be provided in the next week.
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, which currently applies to the entire state, has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life-sustaining business and school closures and building safety protocols.
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, as well as limitations around large gatherings, will remain in place.
For example, retail locations will be able to open with forthcoming guidance in place substantially similar to the worker safety and building safety order. Otherwise, retail will be able to allow for curbside pickup. 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.
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.