Philadelphia, suburbs moving to 'green phase' next week; some Philly restrictions to remain

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Parts of Pennsylvania that were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including Philadelphia and the suburban counties, will move next Friday into the less restrictive "green phase" of reopening businesses and restarting group activities, the Wolf administration announced.

The counties entering the green phase on June 26 are: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lancaster, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Susquehanna.

Along with Philadelphia, the changes will also encompass the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Erie, Scranton, Lancaster and Reading.

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Parts of Pennsylvania that were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic will move next Friday into the less restrictive "green phase" of reopening businesses.



In the green zone, gyms, barbers and theaters can reopen at reduced capacity. Bars and restaurants may allow indoor dining, also at reduced capacity. Gatherings of up to 250 people are permitted in green zones.

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Many people say they are excited about the green phase although they’re making sure to follow proper safety measures.



Many people say they are excited about the green phase although they're making sure to follow proper safety measures.

"I'm so excited it's weird, I forgot what it was like to own the gym," said Ari Dueñas, of Revolution Fitness Factory.

Revolution fitness Factory in Old Kensington is getting ready to open July 6, once Philadelphia is set to be in the green phase.

Many service industries are also getting to re-open like Fresh Cuts in the city's East Falls section.

"We got the partitions six feet apart, so we already COVID-19 ready," said Terrell Anderson of Fresh Cuts.

Beginning July 3, they'll be able to open at reduced capacity.

"I make sure everything is nice and tidy in there," said Anderson.

Next week Philadelphia suburbs are set to enter green phrase which means hair salons in Montgomery County can open Friday, June 26.

Beth Hatfield, owner of Diamond Cuts gave Action News a virtual tour inside her hair salon in Conshohocken, Pa.

"We've kept things clean and sanitary and that's what our business is about," said Hatfield. "So it's fantastic to be back in and know that we can come in on Friday."

Nail salons get the green light to open Friday, June 26, in Delaware County.

"I'm very much excited cause I like getting my nails done," said Shania Beauford of Wayne, Pa.

Musicians also excited to get to perform live at restaurants now that indoor dining will be allowed under the green phase.

GREEN PHASE


Philadelphia said some restrictions will remain. Further details are below.

WORK & CONGREGATE SETTING RESTRICTIONS
-Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged
-Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements
-All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy
-Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance
-Congregate Care Restrictions in Place
-Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities
-Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

-Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
-Masks Are Required When Entering a Business
-Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy
-Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only
-Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged
-All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy
-Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols

Wolf, a Democrat, said local officials in Philadelphia will maintain some additional restrictions for an additional week, until July 3.

Some activities will be newly permitted in Philadelphia during the "yellow phase" beginning June 26, if progress on metrics continues. These include:

-Residential swimming pools and private swim clubs
-Zoos (outside only)
-Personal services such as salons, barbers, and spas
-Small indoor social and religious gatherings (up to 25 people)

The following activities are newly allowed in the Green Phase beginning July 3 in Philadelphia if targets are met:

-Outdoor group recreational and sports activities for youth and adults
-Gyms and indoor exercise classes
-Schools and colleges
-Libraries and museums
-Indoor shopping malls
-Outdoor performances and small outdoor events (up to 50 people)
-Restaurants with indoor seating (with occupancy restrictions)

Reopening guidance for the industries listed above will be released by the Health Department next week, officials said.

Residents throughout Philadelphia said they were ecstatic about the announcement.

"I feel good about it for the economy and everything," said Richard Murray-Bey of Uptown. "But the thing of it is, as long as we wear our masks and they do temperature checks before entering the facilities, we should be fine."

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Philadelphia residents and business owners are excited for the upcoming move to the "green phase."



"We're so excited, my phone is blowing up all day," said salon owner Tara Acosta. "So my duty as the employer to provide them with face shields and their masks and lots of hand sanitizer and soap and all that good stuff. We're ready to rock."

Arthur "Maxamillion" Wells III, who runs Maxamillion's Gentleman's Quarters Barber Parlor in Center City, said his business has been closed for 15 weeks.

"You cant survive three days without water but they expect us to go 14,15,16 weeks without a income?" said Wells. "Talk about something very painful and unrealistic."

Higher-risk activities will not start immediately when Philadelphia reaches the Green Phase because these activities involve crowds, people in close proximity, high risk activities (such as eating, drinking, singing), or vulnerable populations.

The following activities will be allowed to restart subsequently and on different dates, based on the risk presented by each activity and the status of the epidemic:

-Casinos
-Restaurants and bars with indoor seating (no occupancy restrictions)
-Large outdoor events (more than 50 people)
-Theaters and indoor events
-In-person conventions/conferences
-Large indoor social and religious gatherings (more than 25 people)
-Senior services involving gatherings (such as adult daycares)

The only county left in the yellow zone is Lebanon County in central Pennsylvania. In a release, the Wolf administration blamed Republican county officials for voting to open about a month ago. A message was left seeking comment from the Lebanon County commissioners and the county administrator.

"Lebanon County's partisan, politically driven decision to ignore public health experts and reopen prematurely is having severe consequences for the health and safety of county residents," Wolf's health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said in the release. "Case counts have escalated and the county is not yet ready to be reopened. Lebanon County has hindered its progress by reopening too early."

The number of new infections has been rising in Lebanon County since late May, increase from 88 new cases over the 14-day period ending May 28 to 213 new cases in the 14-day period ending Thursday.

A Republican state lawmaker from Lebanon, Rep. Russ Diamond, was prime sponsor of a resolution passed by both chambers earlier this month to end Wolf's shutdown. The state Supreme Court will decide whether that resolution carries any legal weight.

In other coronavirus-related developments Friday:

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CASES

The state Department of Health reported 38 additional coronavirus deaths, raising the statewide total to 6,399.

Health officials also reported 526 new infections, bringing the statewide total to more than 80,750.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state's confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. There is no data on how many people have fully recovered.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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CAR SHOW LEGAL BATTLE

Lawyers for the state Health Department and a large auto show in progress in central Pennsylvania told a judge Friday they have reached a settlement agreement in principle over the state's effort to impose a 250-person limit on attendees.

The filing sought to delay a hearing set for Friday, and asked to have the case put on hold while they work on a written agreement. No terms were disclosed.

The Health Department has sought an injunction to force Carlisle Events, the organizers of Spring Carlisle, to comply with the limit.

The organization has argued it is more like indoor malls, amusement parks and others that are restricted to 50% of capacity under social distancing regulations imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday, can attract some 100,000 people, although organizers say the crowd is expected to be far smaller this year.
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