Reopening Pennsylvania: What the red, yellow and green phases mean

Allegheny Co. health officials cautious as we prepare for move to yellow phase

Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he will slowly reopen Pennsylvania by phases: red, yellow and green.

“We will not just be flipping a switch and going from closed to open,” Wolf said when he outlined the three phases. “We might reopen some areas or businesses only to have them close again if the virus continues to resurge.”

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Here is an outline of what each of these phases mean for you:

Red phase

Stay-at-home orders remain in place and only life-sustaining businesses are allowed to be open.

“The red phase, which currently applies to the whole 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,” according to the commonwealth’s plan.

Here is a breakdown of the red phase:

Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

  • Life-sustaining businesses only
  • Congregate care and prison restrictions in place
  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and most child care facilities closed

Social Restrictions

  • Stay-at-home orders in place
  • Large gatherings prohibited
  • Restaurants and bars limited to carry-out and delivery only
  • Only travel for life-sustaining purposes encouraged
  • Reiterate and reinforce safety guidance for businesses, workers, individuals, facilities, update if necessary
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

Yellow phase

Wolf said that before a region moves from red to yellow there will need to be an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days.

Under the yellow designation, stay-at-home orders will be lifted and gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed.

Child care is open, although businesses must follow federal and state guidance for safety, social distancing and cleaning.

Most retail stores will be allowed to open, but curbside pickup and delivery is still preferable.

Gyms, casinos, theaters and other indoor recreational, wellness and entertainment venues will stay closed. Restaurants and bars will still be limited to carryout or delivery.

“The purpose of [the yellow] 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,” Wolf’s plan said.

Here is a break down of the yellow phase:

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 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

Green phase

This stage will be the most open, with the stay-at-home order lifted and most businesses allowed to reopen. Wolf said that all businesses and individuals will still be required to follow CDC guidelines. After a county is in the yellow phase, if the overall risk remains contained for 14 days, the county will transition 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.”

Here is a break down of the green phase:

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 Recreational Gatherings Remain Restricted
  • 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
What does the yellow phase of the reopening plan mean for shoppers, local businesses?