May 01, 2020
Two dozen counties in northwest and north-central Pennsylvania will be the first to begin the state's reopening process.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday that coronavirus-related restrictions would relax in those counties beginning May 8.
The news came with little surprise. Wolf previously had said the regions likely would be the first to advance to the yellow phase of his three-phrase reopening plan.
The following counties are affected: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango and Warren.
State officials deemed them to have three factors necessary to begin reopening: low per-capita case counts, an appropriate population density to contain community spread of COVID-19 and an ability to conduct contract tracing and testing.
"We have seen our new case numbers stabilize statewide and while we still have areas where outbreaks are occurring, we also have many areas that have few or no new cases," Wolf said.
The loosened restrictions allow some non-life-sustaining businesses to reopen so long as they follow stringent safety orders. Whenever possible, businesses should operate remotely. In-person retail sales are permitted, but curbside pickup and delivery options are preferred.
Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities – like gyms and spas – must remain closed, along with entertainment venues, like casinos and theaters. Bars and restaurants are still restricted to takeout and delivery options.
Gatherings of 25 people or more remain prohibited. And congregate care and prison visitation restrictions remain in place.
The Philadelphia region is expected to be among the last to begin reopening.