PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs have officially moved into the yellow phase of Pennsylvania's reopening plan.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed amended yellow phase orders to include 10 counties moving to the yellow phase at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The counties include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery and Philadelphia.
All sixty-seven counties in the state have entered at least the second stage of the three-tiered economic reopening plan. Some counties in the central and northern parts of the state with low coronavirus case numbers and small populations have already entered the green phase.
The city's announcement came days after Mayor Jim Kenney cast some doubt on Philadelphia moving ahead in the reopening plan. Kenney expressed concern about a potential case spike brought on by civil unrest and protests which have seen thousands of people tightly gather on city streets.
Dr. Thomas Farley on Good Day Thursday morning said protesters should self-quarantine for two weeks following demonstrating. After a week, Farley says an individual should get a coronavirus test.
Philadelphia currently has more than 23,000 coronavirus cases and 1,290 virus-related deaths. While those totals remain tragic, Farley says recent numbers show promise. Positive case numbers have dropped from 40 percent to 8 percent and daily totals have fallen from a peak of 600 to the mid-100s.
"The numbers all look good, the number of people coming into the emergency departments with illness that might be COVID is very low," Farley said. "Case counts are going down, cases in nursing homes are going down, so I'm real pleased with the progress."
Philadelphia and surrounding counties have been stubbornly stuck in the most restrictive phase since lockdowns began. The red phase mandates a stay-at-home order and bans non-life sustaining travel.
While the yellow phase is a modest step forward, there are noticeable changes. Residents are no longer under a stay-at-home order, retailers can allow shoppers inside five at a time with mitigation guidelines, and child care services can resume.
Indoor recreation and entertainment businesses are still not allowed to reopen. Gatherings of at least 25 are allowed under the state rules of the yellow phase, but city health officials are advising residents to continue to avoid crowds, especially when indoors.
Outdoor dining will be allowed in most counties on June 5, with the exception of Philadelphia, which is set to allow outdoor dining on June 12.
Governor Tom Wolf said on Thursday that he will let the statewide stay-at-home order expire at midnight on Friday.
“Pennsylvanians have done a tremendous job flattening the curve and case numbers continue to decrease,” Wolf said. “Renewing the disaster declaration helps state agencies with resources and supports as we continue mitigation and recovery.”
Associated Press contributed to this report
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