As of midnight tonight (June 4th), Philadelphia will be lifting the Stay-at-Home order and moving into the yellow phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s plan for reopening Pennsylvania.
There are quite a few questions about what this means for individuals in the state, and more specifically people in Philadelphia. It’s important to note that this is an evolving plan that may be subject to change–be sure to check our website for any updates.
The yellow phase is the first step in a multi-step process developed by governors around the country as they try to relax regulations in response to COVID-19. This plan was specifically outlined for Philadelphians in a plan released by Mayor Jim Kenny, titled ‘Safer at Home’, which dictates the changes that will be taking place.
According to that plan, the second phase of COVID-19 response (or the Yellow Phase) will include three major actions: Containment, Social Distancing, and Protecting Vulnerable Populations.
Containment is the newest of these actions and involves the city implementing large-scale rapid testing from June to August, all across Philadelphia. As of now, there are 47 testing sites across the city, and the plan is to open more in under-served neighborhoods. In addition to testing at hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers, there is a plan to improve testing availability to at-risk populations and populations which have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
This part of the plan will also require individuals who have come into contact with the virus to self-quarantine and seek testing as they can.
The second action implemented in the Safer at Home plan is the changes to Social Distancing measures.
One of the major changes coming is the reopening of certain retail business as well as a few other businesses. According to the City of Philadelphia, these are the businesses that will be allowed to reopen in some capacity, under specific guidelines, as we move into this next phase:
- Food Trucks and Walk-up service at restaurants
- Outdoor youth day camps, recreation, and parks
- Childcare centers can be open without waivers, but all must employ more frequent sanitizing procedures.
Office-based Business, as well as banks, car sales, real estate activities, manufacturing, and warehouse operations will also be allowed to resume in the yellow phase as well.
Also included in the reopening of retail is the option for resuming outdoor seating at restaurants, as long as they comply with social distancing guidelines. However, this idea has been postponed to June 12th as of today.
One of the other changes in the relaxing of the Stay at Home order, gatherings of up to 25 people maintaining social distance are now permitted. While this is still advised against, it is now allowed in the lessened restrictions.
The last major aspect of the yellow phase includes protecting vulnerable populations. This includes raising testing availability in homeless populations and increasing testing and support in Black, Hispanic, and Latino populations which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID 19. According to the City of Philadelphia, the Department of Public Health will develop and release a COVID-19 racial equity plan that will tackle issues relating to the lack of testing in these areas. It will also include plans for community outreach, protecting essential works, and preventing the spread within the community.
As we move into this phase tonight, there are quite a few things that will be staying the same. The city of Philadelphia will still expect individuals to follow some of the same guidelines they have been, which include:
- Wearing a mask
- Social Distancing: remaining six feet away from one another
- Washing your hands frequently
In addition to those expectations, many businesses and recreational activities will still not be permitted. There is still no indoor seating at restaurants. Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, and personal care services like gyms, spas, barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, and services that provide massage therapy will also remain closed. Entertainment options like movie theatres and casinos will remain closed under the yellow phase.
These changes will serve as the testing for eventually moving into a green phase. However, officials in the city will be monitoring activities and potential outbreaks to make sure citizens stay safe. It is important to remember that this is not a linear plan. There is always the possibility that moving into the yellow phase is temporary if things begin to escalate and cases begin to rise again. All of these steps were about flattening the curve, and now maintaining that.
On top of all of this, these plans are still subject to change. For now, we move into yellow at midnight on June 4th. Make sure to stay up to date on our website and social media.