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Back to Business: Stores, residents begin new routine in yellow phase

Gov. Tom Wolf announced that all southwest Pennsylvania counties, with the exception of Beaver County, will move into the yellow phase May 15.

Twenty-four other counties in Pennsylvania moved into the yellow phase May 8. Now, businesses across our region are ready to get back to business.

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What you can and cannot do in the yellow phase

There’s still confusion over what’s allowed in the yellow phase.

You are still encouraged to wear your mask in public, but there are some things that you can do starting Friday.

You can get together with 25 people or fewer, take a child to day care, get your pet groomed and go to the liquor store and retail stores. Many of these will still have some restrictions.

You cannot go to the gym, go to the salon, go to the movies or take a child to school. Restaurants will still offer takeout services only; you cannot dine in.

Businesses that are opening should be following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Port Authority bus riders resuming routine in yellow phase

Most of the area is now officially in the yellow phase, meaning many folks are resuming their normal routines boarding Port Authority buses.

Officials said they’re not shifting away from restrictions.

A Channel 11 crew captured riders patiently waiting to board PAT buses in the heart of downtown.

Riders were socially distant from one another, many sported facemasks or had one close-by.

Despite moving a step closer to re-opening the state, the Port Authority is taking no chances when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

They’re still disinfecting buses and stations around the clock. Passengers will stick to entering through the back door.

There is no exchange of cash between riders and the driver, you can just hop on board.

As the pandemic plays out, 10 riders are allowed at a time on the smaller busses, and 25 people on the bigger 60-foot busses.

Port Authority officials said riders should be prepared for extra ride time as they adjust to accommodate the changing demands.

“I think people is trying to slide into the transition. You know what I mean? I think that’s why the buses haven’t gotten crowded yet,” said Ken Carter of Pittsburgh.

Starting Monday, most Port Authority bus routes will return to regular weekday schedules.

Channel 11’s Mike Holden is finding out from the Port Authority how they’re protecting their workers for Channel 11 News beginning at 5 p.m.

PennDOT reopens Driver License and Photo License Centers

PennDOT officials said a number of driver and photo license centers are now open in yellow counties.

Starting Friday, May 15:

  • Bridgeville Driver and Photo License Center, 1025 Washington Pike, Route 50 Bridgeville;
  • Penn Hills Driver and Photo License Center, 11620 Keleket Drive, Penn Hills;
  • Uniontown Driver and Photo License Center, 855 N Gallatin Avenue
  • Uniontown;
  • Greensburg Driver and Photo License Center, 770 East Pittsburgh Street, Greensburg;
  • New Kensington Driver and Photo License Center, 1600 Greensburg Road, New Kensington

Starting Saturday, May 16:

  • Washington Driver and Photo License Center, 250 Oak Spring Road, Washington;
  • Allison Park Driver and Photo License Center, 1701 Duncan Avenue, Allison Park;
  • Butler Driver and Photo License Center, 356 Point Plaza, Butler; and

Opening Monday, May 18:

  • Pittsburgh Driver and Photo License Center, 708 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh

With the centers opening back up, customers will find limited services:

  • Commercial Driver License (CDL) transactions, including renewals, replacements, Medical Examiner’s Certificates (MECs), date of proof transactions, Hazardous Material Recertifications, and related transactions;
  • Initial issuance transactions, including out-of-state transfers, ID card issuance, and related transactions;
  • Photo license services;
  • Driver license restoration services that cannot be completed online or via mail;
  • Medical-related testing; and
  • Non-U.S. citizen transaction processing.

Photo License Centers only process photos, and individuals must have a camera card for this service. Several will reopen on Tuesday, May 19:

  • East Liberty, 5900 Baum Boulevard, Pittsburgh; hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM;
  • Monroeville, 2725 Mosside Boulevard, Monroeville; hours of operation will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:15 PM, Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM; and
  • Clairton Boulevard, 9 Clairton Boulevard, Pittsburgh; hours of operation will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:15 PM, Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Retail businesses changing the way they do business

Most stores are reopen Friday, but it’s not as simple as unlocking the doors.

It’s the day business owners and customers have been waiting for.

But it’s not business as usual, and not every store is reopen. Don’t expect to walk around your local mall anytime soon. Only stores with external entrances may offer in-store shopping.

Owners are changing the way they do business.

Every business opening its doors must follow safety guidelines to prevent the spread and keep staff and customers safe. High-touch areas must be routinely cleaned and disinfected, and workers have to enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Channel 11’s Liz Kilmer spoke with a local business owner about the changes they’re making as they reopen.

Daycares centers reopening with strict guidelines in place

Adults aren’t the only ones headed back Friday.

A lot of children are going back to day cares, and these places have strict guidelines in place.

One of those day care centers is Hugs Away From Home, Inc., in Verona, where drop-off and pickup will be staggered and gapped out to avoid person-to-person contact.

Several CDC guidelines will be implemented. Both staff and children will have their temperature taken as they enter the facility. Masks will be worn by adults and children who are old enough.

The owner, Tammy Belohlavek, told Channel 11’s Mike Holden that children would be kept in the same small groups all day long to avoid extended exposure with others.

The children are limited to what toys and objects they can bring from home.

There are also additional safety policies when it comes to disinfecting surfaces and serving food.

The staff said they’re ready and trying to embrace the changes.

Now, social distancing around the clock, sanitizing and cleaning is the new normal.

Strip District will see many changes amid new health guidelines

You'll see a ton of changes when you head to the strip district beginning May 15.

From power-washed sidewalks to signs telling you where to go and how many people are allowed in a store at a time, things will look very different despite stores reopening.

Yinzers in the Strip has been Jim Cohen's livelihood for 25 years. As he gets ready to welcome back his customers, his shop is rearranged – designed for social distancing.

Checkout barriers are up and face shields are available for employees. And you'll see some new merchandise, especially with the fate of sports unknown this year.

Outside his front door, power washers clean the sidewalks, neighbors sweep their storefronts and the trash cans are nearly sparkling. The Strip is spotless.

There's even a discussion about separate trash cans for customers to dispose of their gloves and masks.

Paulina Moran and her family are getting ready for people to walk through their newly painted doors at Lucy’s Handmade Clothing Shop.

“We're really, really, really excited. We're a little nervous, hope everyone wears their masks, gloves and keeps their social distancing,” Moran said.

Business owners are anxious for what could be a busy first weekend back.

It’s usually busy so it’s probably going to be double since this is the first weekend since the quarantine started.

Westmoreland County retail stores ready to go

For weeks, downtown Greensburg has looked like a ghost town, with store after store sitting empty. But there are new signs of life.

Retails shops are prepping to reopen Friday after having their doors locked for nine weeks — and owners said they’re excited to get back to business.

Betty DeAngelis is stocked, prepped and ready to reopen “Bella Unique Boutique” after being shut down for about two months.

“It’s been hard but not impossible. And because I know about struggling and I’ve been in business for a long time, I try to keep myself prepared,” she said.

She wants every customer to feel as comfortable as possible walking back into her store, but the shopping experience is going to feel a little bit different.

“I am going to keep the door closed. I have a doorbell luckily, so they’ll be able to ring the doorbell … so this way if we do get a lot of people in here, we’ll be able to control the atmosphere. We’re hoping for that,” said DeAngelis.

Expect changes, less inventory at car dealerships

Local car dealers said they are ready for the new normal when it comes to car shopping. At Diehl Automotive customers will see a difference from the moment they walk in the door.

When it comes to social distancing, customers can still get up close to the slick and shiny new cars in the showroom, but around sales staff they will being asked to wear a mask.

It’s just one of many changes customers will notice at Diehl Automotive starting tomorrow.

“The main requirement we have to follow is our occupancy limit and we just have to maintain safer distance to protect them and our employees,” said owner Matthew Diehl.

Customers can expect to see sales people and staff, just not the coffee bar and food enticements they enjoyed in the past.

What car buyers will likely notice is all the cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces with which staff and customers come into contact.

A top priority will be the vehicles themselves. Diehl told Channel 11 each car or truck will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between customers, even if it never leaves the lot.

The biggest change customers will see is when it comes to the test drive. Car buyers won’t have a sales person in the front seat – they will be totally on their own.

“It’s a scary thought, and we’re trying our best to figure out this new environment, as what this looks like. Really, it’s trying to make sure the customer has all the info. We get all their info and verify it,” Diehl said.

Local car dealers said a lot of factories are still shut down, so the amount of inventory they have will decrease and may not be replenished like in the past until the plants ramp up production.

How larger businesses are preparing

Channel 11's Amy Marcinkiewicz went to a shopping plaza in one of the region's busiest areas: Cranberry.

She saw the limitations stores will face and how they're dealing with these changes.

It’s going to be the new normal as you enter retail stores: masks, gloves and disinfectants will meet you at the door. Stores want to be safe as they reopen.

“We came in all this week, we cleaned the store from top to bottom. This case is the jewelry – we wanted to make sure that everyone was safe and felt comfortable when they walked in the store,” said Phil Matthew, owner of Matthew Jewelers.

As stores open Friday, retailers said the message is to sell safely and shop safely as we enter uncharted territory.