So, you’ve made it to the Yellow phase of Pennsylvania’s coronavirus reopening plan.
Way to go!
But don’t pop the corks just yet until you hear how life will and won’t change from the Red phase.
Yellow Phase of Pennsylvania Coronavirus Reopening Plan
Here’s what to expect when Schuylkill County goes into the Yellow phase of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan on May 29. And remember, the governor says he can pull the equivalent of turning this car around if cases go back up and move us right back to Red phase if he wants.
Obviously, we’ve learned we’re nearly powerless to stop him.
So, let’s take a look at the big highlights of the Yellow phase and the differences it has from the very restrictive Red phase:
Stay at Home Order Lifted
The so-called “lockdown” or “quarantine” will end on May 29 in Schuylkill County. You no longer can only leave the house for essential trips to so-called essential businesses (Reminder: All businesses are essential).
Gatherings Up to 25 People Allowed
If you have 24 friends, you’ll all be able to get together again, especially since you can leave your house for whatever reason you’d like. In the Yellow phase of Pennsylvania’s coronavirus reopening plan, only gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. Under the Red phase, this number was 10.
Return of Retail
In the Yellow phase, in-person retails is once again permitted. That will open up many more small businesses that Governor Wolf forced closed at the beginning of the pandemic response. There are exceptions, however, like shopping malls.
For instance, the Fairlane Village Mall and Cressona Mall can’t reopen on the inside. But stores with their own outside entrance can reopen. Think of stores like Kohl’s and Boscov’s outside Pottsville. Of course, it’ll be up to them if they decide to reopen right away.
Offices and Other Businesses Can Reopen, But …
Another highlight of the Yellow phase is the reopening of office spaces. That should open up a lot of non-retail companies in Schuylkill County. However, the state still recommends keeping employees working from home if possible.
Businesses that conduct in-person operations must follow safety guidelines that promote social distancing, however.
Child Care Facilities Reopening
With many people heading back to work next week, that’s going to create a demand for child care services, like day cares. Starting on Friday, they’ll be allowed to reopen, too.
Now, the Yellow phase is hardly a party. And there will still be many restrictions in place, especially on businesses in the area.
Things That Don’t Change in Yellow Phase in Pennsylvania
Here’s a look at some of the things that aren’t changing on May 29:
Nursing Home, Congregate Care, Prison Visits Still Prohibited
Families still can’t visit loved ones in any of these facilities in the Yellow phase.
Schools are Closed
It’s almost the natural end of the school year, so this won’t have much of an impact on Schuylkill County schools. Plans are being made, however, for live, in-person graduation ceremonies at several schools in the area.
Restaurants and Bars Limited to Take-Out, Delivery, Curbside Pickup
Because the state has so much control over these businesses, they’ll still feel the wrath of the Red phase restrictions.
These Businesses Have to Stay Closed, Too
We’ve mentioned in the past how hair and nail salons must remain closed under the Yellow phase. That decision was a last-minute reversal by Health Sec. Rachel Levine.
These businesses must also stay closed:
- Indoor recreation
- Health and wellness facilities
- Massage Therapy
Remember, these rules and restrictions often change and sometimes overnight. We’ll track changes to these plus update you on other features of the Yellow phase in the week ahead.
History of Stay at Home Order in Schuylkill County
In total, Schuylkill County will have been under a Stay at Home order imposed by Wolf for 59-1/2 days. We went under the Stay at Home order starting some time around noon on March 30. Two days after that, Wolf put the entire state in a Stay at Home order.
On May 8, a first batch of counties moved out of the Red phase and into Yellow. Each Friday since then in May, more counties phased into Yellow. On May 29, as Schuylkill County moves into Yellow, some northwest counties in Pennsylvania will head to the Green phase. However, some counties will remain in the Red phase, including neighboring Berks County, until June 4, presumably.
A county must stay in the Yellow phase for 14 days. That means the earliest Schuylkill County could get moved to the Green phase is June 12. But that’s not even total freedom and a return to normal. We’d have to phase out of Green as well to return to a full normal once again.
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Schuylkill County
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