What to expect when moving to yellow

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WAYNE COUNTY, PA — Gov. Tom Wolf recently confirmed what many local residents have been anxiously awaiting for weeks: Wayne County is moving from red to yellow on Friday, May 22.

As news of the governor’s announcement spread through social media, many asked what the move actually means for them. While some hailed it as a saving grace for the local economy, others claimed that there is virtually no difference between the two phases.

Here’s what you can expect to see happen as Wayne County transitions to yellow.

Stay-at-home order lifted

Wolf’s stay-at-home order, which has been in effect since mid-March, will no longer be in effect for counties in the yellow phase. The order restricted people from leaving their homes for any reason except to perform life-sustaining activities like buying groceries or medicine. It also allowed for socially-distant, outdoor activities like going for runs or taking hikes.

Residents who violated the stay-at-home order likely did not receive any kind of citation or fine—as Wolf’s office noted, officers were instead “focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.” For that reason, life without the stay-at-home order will likely not feel drastically different from life with one in place.

Businesses reopening

According to Wayne County Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer, moving from red to yellow allows for between 70 to 80 percent of the county to reopen. Some businesses, however, are going to remain closed under the yellow phase. “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 and theaters)” are among those not reopening.

In-person retail is permitted in the yellow phase, but curbside and delivery methods are still preferable when possible. As much as possible, telework—remote work—must continue. Businesses with in-person operations can resume, but “must take precautions to protect their employees, their employees’ families and their communities as a whole.” Find the full listing of workplace and building safety requirements at www.bit.ly/yellowphase

Restaurants and bars are still limited to carry-out and delivery. Child care centers are permitted to reopen, but schools will remain closed for in-person instruction during the yellow phase.

Outdoor recreation has been largely accessible throughout the red phase and will continue to be under yellow. Residents have been encouraged to visit parks; golf courses, marinas and guided fishing trips have been open for the past several weeks.

Social gatherings

In the yellow phase, social gatherings are not as strictly prohibited. People are allowed to congregate in groups of up to 25 people. Health officials are still advising people to wear masks when they are out of their homes.

Future

Wolf has stressed that this plan is “not a one-way route.” It’s possible that counties will be reverted back to red before proceeding to green.

“The state is closely monitoring the counties in the yellow phase and will re-impose restrictions if danger arises. If the new case count begins to climb in one area, restrictions will need to be imposed to prevent local medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed,” according to Wolf’s administration.

At press time, Wolf has not given a timeline for when counties can expect to move from the yellow to the green phase. However, he has described that time, when it comes, as a “new normal.” Even as counties move to green, the state will continue monitoring public health indicators and adjusting restrictions and orders as needed.

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